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Copyright 1951 

by the Devin-Adair Company 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be 
quoted without written permission from the publisher. 

First Printing, August, 1951 
Second Printing, September, 1951 




As the S.S. Vulcania sailed into New York Harbor that 
July day in 1934 , 1 leaned on the deck rail and looked at the 
skyline wistfully. It was good to be back in my own coun- 
try after a year’s study in Italy, I thought, and yet what, 
really, was I coming back to? I had no home, no family. Nor 
was there much prospect of finding a teaching position. 
From all that I had heard abroad, the economic situation in 
the United States had not greatly improved. True, I still had 
some money left from my father’s estate but that would not 
last too long. Somehow I must find a way to earn my living. 
Standing there on the deck, I felt alone and frightened. 

By September, the future looked even gloomier. After 
days of wearing out shoe leather and nights of writing 
letters of application, I realized that the possibility of my 
getting back into the teaching field was remote. Nor did 
there seem to be any other positions for which I was quali- 
fied. All those years of academic study have been wasted, I 
thought bitterly. There doesn’t seem to be any place in the 
world for young professionals like myself. Then I grimly 
determined to make the best of a bad situation. I enrolled in 
the Columbia University business school, took a cheap fur- 
nished room in the neighborhood, and settled down to learn 
shorthand and typing. After six months of this, I would 
be in line for a secretarial job. 


Yet I was haunted by the problem of our maladjusted 
economic system. Although I was only in my mid-twenties, 
I had already seen two depressions, the second worse than 
the first. Each had left in its wake suffering, starvation, 
and broken lives. What lay ahead of us now, I wondered. 
Complete chaos? That was possible but not for long. Chaos 
would undoubtedly be succeeded by a Fascist state. I shiv- 
ered at the prospect. A year of living under Mussolini’s re- 
gime had left me with no great love for Fascism. There 
must be some other way out, I thought, some plan that 
would insure a just world where men could live and work 
like human beings. But what? I didn’t know. 

At this critical juncture I became friendly with a girl who 
had a room down the hall from me. Her name was Lee Fuhr. 
She was a nurse taking courses at Teachers’ College of 
Columbia University in order to get an academic degree. 
Shorter than I, square and solid, with yellow hair and blue 
eyes that betrayed her Dutch ancestry, she gave the im- 
pression of being very sturdy and independent. I felt that 
Lee had a definite goal in life and was heading toward it, 

Her life, it seemed, had not been an easy one. Coming 
from quite a poor family, she had spent her teens working 
long hours at very little pay in the cotton mills of New Jer- 
sey. That, I realized, must have been very hard and un- 
pleasant work. I remembered vividly the time that a group 
of Gastonia strikers had come to solicit funds at Vassar and 
their horrible description of conditions then prevalent in 
the textile industry. Compared to her I had been very fortu- 
nate, I thought. True, my parents had never been very well 
off, but at least I hadn’t had to work during my high-school 
days — except, of course, to earn spending money. 


Lee, it turned out, had always been determined to be a 
nurse. By working hard and saving her money, she had 
finally managed to go to nursing school and get her R.N. 
degree. She married soon after, but her husband had died 
while she was carrying her first child. Undismayed, she had 
gone back to nursing, managing not only to support herself 
and Mary Lee but also to put aside enough to tide her over 
a year at Teachers’ College. It had always been the dream 
of her life, she said, to have a college degree. With that 
behind her, she could get into public health work. 

Lee’s glowing enthusiasm made me feel as if, in a way, 
I were reliving my own past. As far back as I could remem- 
ber, I had passionately wanted a good college education so 
that I could one day become a school teacher, as my mother 
had been before her marriage. To that end, I had studied 
very hard — even given up many of my outside activities — 
in order to qualify for the necessary scholarship at Vassar 
College. Yet, in my case, had it been worth it? I hoped 
desperately that Lee wouldn’t be disappointed, as I had 
been. After all her struggles it would be a pity if the prized 
diploma were just one more piece of paper to hang on the 

As I got to know Lee better, I began to realize she was 
one of the most unselfish people I had ever known. Her 
own difficult life, instead of making her callous, seemed on 
the contrary to have heightened her innate sympathy for 
other human beings. To everyone in trouble she gave un- 
stintingly of her time, money, and understanding. She 
reminds me of my mother, I thought. She, too, had been 
uninhibitedly friendly and ready to help others in time of 
need. I remembered that when anyone on our block had 
been ill, Mother had been the first one there to cook din- 

[ 5 ] 

ner and clean the house. Our house, too, had always been 
cluttered up with lonely people whom she, despite our mea- 
ger budget, had invited in for a “home” meal. 

I often wondered just why it was that Lee, in spite of her 
unhappy experiences in the textile mills, was not more cyni- 
cal. Yet she would always say that although people were 
suffering and starving today, all this would be different in 
the future. How this was to be done, she didn’t at first tell 
me — indeed she gave very evasive answers to my direct 
questions — yet from some of her vague remarks I knew 
she was spending a great deal of her time working with 
groups that were helping to relieve poverty. Once or twice 
she even took me to large benefit parties given by groups 
whose names I have now forgotten but which at the time 
sounded like highly humanitarian organizations. 

As time went on, I told her about my experiences in Italy 
and she was very much interested. My first-hand impres- 
sions had, she said, only confirmed her belief that Fascism 
was an ugly and dangerous thing. Moreover, she, too, 
seemed to be worried about the possibility of the United 
States becoming Fascist. Human misery was bad enough 
now, she agreed, but under that sort of regime it would be 
ten times worse. In fact, she said, she then belonged to an 
organization which was trying to enlighten the American 
people about the evils of Fascism and Nazism. The name 
of it was the American League Against War and Fascism. 
Why didn’t I come over to one of their meetings at Teach- 
ers’ College and listen to the proceedings? Not only would 
I be interested myself to learn what Americans were doing 
in a practical way to prevent Fascism from coming to this 
country, but I could contribute to the work of the group 
by telling them what I personally had seen over there. 

[ 6 ] 

I had never heard of the American League Against War 
and Fascism, but its title, its program, and the list of people 
sponsoring it were impressive. Certainly, I thought, every 
decent person ought to hate both these evils and be willing 
to do something to prevent their coming to pass. One man 
alone, or even a handful of them, could do nothing; an or- 
ganization of this size, however, especially when it included 
well-known molders of public opinion, such as religious 
leaders, writers, and professors, could probably exert a con- 
siderable influence. I felt suddenly that Lee had given me a 
breath of new hope. Here, evidently, was a group of peo- 
ple who not only thought as I did but were willing to do 
something about the situation. Enthusiastically I told her 
I would be glad to go to a meeting. 

The Teachers’ College branch of the League seemed to 
be composed mainly of graduate students and professors, 
with a scattering of people from the neighborhood. 

When the meeting began, I listened intently as they ani- 
matedly discussed the work they had done and their plans 
for the future. I was impressed by their single-mindedness 
of purpose and their intense energy — they look like the sort 
of people who would really get things accomplished, I 
thought. Some of my own discouragement began to ebb 
away as their optimism and fervor communicated itself 
to me. I decided suddenly that I would join the organization 
and do what I could to help the anti-Fascist cause. 

Surprisingly enough, from then on my life took on a 
new zest. I seemed to have cast off the old feeling of listless- 
ness and despair. As I threw myself ardently into the 
work of fighting Fascism, I found that my own personal 
problems faded further and further into the background. 
Sometimes, indeed, I even forgot to think about them. 


When I did remember, they no longer seemed to have cos- 
mic importance. Perhaps you don’t have too much of a 
personal future, I would say to myself, but at least, with 
your small efforts, you are contributing to a worthwhile 

Then, too, in the small group of League members in 
Teachers’ College I found a circle of friends, warm and hos- 
pitable. They welcomed me casually and easily, as if they 
had known me all their lives, and soon I found myself 
dropping into their homes in the evening for a chat, or 
shopping or going to the movies with them. I felt no embar- 
rassment at not being well-off financially. There were, I 
discovered, others in the same predicament, only instead of 
being ashamed of their pennilessness, they accepted it as a 
fact and made no pretenses. Even those who were well-off 
lived simply and unpretentiously. Money, to them, seemed 
to be something that was nice to have but didn’t have much 
importance either in their way of life or in their judgments 
of people. 

As I came to know them better, I realized that they, too, 
like Lee were generous and genuinely kind under all cir- 
cumstances. They seemed to have a heartfelt concern for 
the welfare of other human beings. At first I attributed this 
to the fact that many of them came from small towns where 
neighborliness is taken for granted; then I discovered that it 
rose more from their profound belief in the essential broth- 
erhood of man. This explained, too, their curious lack of 
the usual prejudices against people of another religion, race, 
or color. They seemed to have no interest in whether a 
man was Protestant or Catholic, Jew or Gentile, Negro or 

Often I couldn’t quite figure out what made them tick, 

[ 8 ] 

and close as I was to them I sometimes felt there was a 
wall between us. What was it, I wondered. Was it because, 
for no reason that I could put my finger on, they had 
achieved an inner sureness that I lacked? They seemed to 
have found a philosophy of life that left them with no 
doubts and no torments; they were moving steadily and 
unswervingly, yet with unflagging ardor, toward some 
final goal which I didn’t quite understand. Struggling as I 
was in confusion, I found myself alternately irritated and 
envious. What had they found that I hadn’t — and how had 
they been able to do it? 

This same outlook on life, I discovered, seemed to pre- 
vail in other parts of the League. Certainly it was general in 
the New York City office, where I was now spending a 
good share of my time. I had gone down there originally 
when Lee Fuhr suggested that I might be able to help them 
in research work on Italian Fascism. They were terribly 
short-handed, she said, and besides they had no person who 
was an authority on Italy. 

My first sight of the office, located in the third-floor loft 
of a building on Fourth Avenue, had been a distinct shock. 
It’s certainly a fire trap, I said to myself, as I climbed the 
rickety wooden stairs and, panting for breath, stood in the 
doorway. The interior was even less prepossessing — dirty 
and dusty — and what few windows there were looked as 
though they could stand a good washing. A small part of 
the front section had been partitioned off to make two of- 
fices, each containing a battered desk and two or three 
chairs. The remainder, with the exception of a very crude 
mimeograph office in the rear, stretched emptily back — 
broken only by two long plank tables, flanked by wooden 
benches, and vast stacks of literature strewn about the floor. 

[ 9 ] 

There seemed to be no provision for proper lighting; two 
or three light bulbs, unshaded, hung from the ceiling on 
long cords. 

I had been half inclined to walk out again, but a short, 
stocky man with brown hair and a turned-up nose had 
looked up from tying a bundle of papers and had bustled 

“Come on in,” he said cheerily, “and don’t mind the mess. 
We don’t have the money to spend on fancy fronts.” 

I soon found myself forgetting the shabbiness of the 
office and getting interested in the work to be done. I 
was introduced to a lean, dark, determined-looking woman 
who emerged from one of the offices. She was, it turned 
out, Pauline Rogers, executive secretary of the city office 
of the League. 

“This is Harold Patch,” she said, waving to the short, 
stocky man, “one of the editors of our publication Fight. 
He’ll take you under his wing and see that you find your- 
self at home.” 

Patch impressed me as a rather odd character but a thor- 
oughly likable one. He was dressed shabbily and rarely 
seemed to have enough money to buy proper food, but it 
never seemed to affect his good spirits nor did it hamper his 
enthusiastic capacity for doing immense quantities of work. 
This attitude, strangely enough, was shared by all the other 
staff members; they never seemed to be upset about living 
on the ragged edge of poverty — indeed, they joked about 
it continually. 

Patch was a voluble soul; as he worked, he chattered in- 
cessantly. Before long I had found out that, despite his mere 
twenty-five years, he had drifted in and out of quite a num- 
ber of assorted political organizations, including the An- 


archists and the Socialists and a few odd ones like the Amer- 
ican Association for the Advancement of Atheism. 

Unaware of what I was putting my foot into, I said 
jokingly one day, “Haven’t you ever tried the Communist 

A dead quiet fell over the group at the table. Across 
the way, Sol put down his pencil and stared at me. 

Patch hesitated. “No, not yet.” Then he looked at me 
appraisingly. “What do you know about it?” 

“Not a thing, except that there is one,” I answered cheer- 
fully. “Just thought that, since you seem to have been in 
so many other peculiar organizations, that one might have 
been on your list.” 

No one made any comment and we returned to our work. 
It was only later that the full import of this conversation 
dawned on me. Meanwhile, I was seeing Lee Fuhr more 
often; many nights we would cook supper together and 
discuss the affairs of the League. By then I was beginning 
to feel a little more optimistic about the immediate future 
of the United States. Certainly if the League continued to 
grow, to expand as it was then doing and to educate the 
American people, there was a chance that we could avoid 
the evils of Fascism. The only thing that bothered me was 
its essentially negative aspect — the organization’s pro- 
gram stated very definitely that it was against war and Fas- 
cism but it was rather vague in what it stood for. 

“Yes, I suppose that’s true,” Lee agreed. “But in holding 
back the forces of Fascism we are protecting the democ- 
racy that we have in this country.” 

“What democracy?” I asked, sardonically. “If my an- 
cestors knew how the ideals they fought and died for had 
been mangled, they would turn in their graves!” 


She stared at me for a moment and then lit a cigarette 

“I know,” she said, crumpling the empty package of 
matches in her hand. “There’s no use trying to kid ourselves 
that conditions in this country are good. Our economic 
set-up is rotten clear through and completely belies our 
professed belief in basic Christian principles. But I don’t 
need to tell you that. You seem to know already.” 

Of course I knew — in fact, it had been brought to 
my attention forcibly when, at the impressionable age of 
twelve, my parents and I had moved to a steel town in west- 
ern Pennsylvania. That had been in the summer of 1920, 
right in the middle of a depression that had struck after 
World War I. Poverty and starvation hung like a pall over 
McKeesport. Wages had been slashed mercilessly, good 
workers were thrown out on the streets, and families just 
barely managed to survive — or died of hunger. A year pre- 
viously, a then-still-small steel union had in desperation 
gone out on strike and had been quite literally starved out, 
since they had no more funds to continue. There had been 
no relief agencies, except for one small private one that 
operated on a shoe string and had finally had to fold up for 
lack of money. 

Lee frowned thoughtfully. 

“It’s not a hopeless situation, you know,” she said slowly. 
“If we can maintain our constitutional guarantees in this 
country and ward off the dangers of Fascism, we may be 
able gradually to evolve to a good society that will really 
guarantee a human being the essentials for a decent life.” 

Could we, I wondered. What had built the McKeesports 
of this country but the callous greed of human beings? I 
remembered vividly the day Mother had returned, white 


faced and grim, from the relief agency where she worked 
as a volunteer. She had, she said, been investigating the own- 
ership of a filthy tenement whose rickety stairs had col- 
lapsed, injuring one of her clients. That afternoon she had 
discovered the owner was not only one of the wealthiest 
men in the town and a leading citizen but was on the execu- 
tive board of her relief agency! She had turned to me 
bewilderedly, but with an undercurrent of anger. 

“Elizabeth, how could anyone be so greedy for money 
that they’d make it that way?” she asked. 

I had thought then that perhaps McKeesport was not 
typical of the average American industrial city, but as time 
went on I was to find the same pattern of misery and suffer- 
ing repeated in other towns. And always it stemmed back 
to some man’s hunger for money. Yet now Lee was saying 
that there was hope that someday things would be different. 
I turned to her impulsively. 

“Your idea sounds like a good one,” I said wistfully, “and 
yet I wonder if it would work out in practice. After all, as 
long as men are greedy there will be social injustice.” 

“Greed isn’t essentially a part of human nature,” she re- 
plied firmly. “It’s only a by-product of the profit motive. 
That’s the trouble with our present civilization. People 
have been taught to work only to accumulate money for 
themselves, without regard to the welfare of their neighbor. 
If, however, we could eliminate the profit motive — produce 
for use and not for profit — we would have the beginnings 
of a good social set-up.” 

That was true, I thought. In fact, I remembered that that 
had been the idea of the League for Industrial Democracy 
I had belonged to briefly while I was in Vassar — “produc- 
tion for use and not for profit.” I had heartily agreed with 


that point of view at the time. Surely man’s greed, symbol- 
ized by his grabbing for profits, was at the base of much of 
the suffering of the world. 

Why had I drifted into the League for Industrial Democ- 
racy? Probably because I had finally realized that, whether 
or not I liked it, this new industrial civilization was here to 
stay and somehow it must be reconciled with the Christian 
ethics on which I had been reared. Then, too, I had come 
to feel that if anything constructive were to be done about 
social injustice, it would have to be the result of collective 
action. Mother, single-handedly, had tried to alleviate suf- 
fering in McKeesport and had been able to accomplish very 
little. Here, I had thought, was a nationwide organization 
that had behind it the strength of many people. 

Yet I had not continued my affiliation with the L.I.D. for 
any great length of time. Somehow, in spite of my agree- 
ment with their point of view, I had felt that they were 
impractical dreamers who spent a great deal of time discuss- 
ing social evils but not accomplishing much. It was, I had 
felt, not enough to have a good goal; you must also have a 
definite plan on how to reach it. 

“But since nobody’s ever really tried to build that kind 
of a society,” I objected, “how do you know that it could 
be accomplished?” 

“They’re doing it right now in the U.S.S.R.,” she an- 
swered enthusiastically. “There the means of production are 
in the hands of the people instead of being owned by private 
interests. And it’s working out very well. When a man feels 
that he has a stake in the enterprise he’s working in, and 
besides is sure that he and his family will be guaranteed a 
decent livelihood, he does a much better job.” 

Russia! Yes, I remembered that Hallie Flanagan, my dra- 


matics teacher in Vassar College, had studied over there not 
long before and had told us all about the new social experi- 
ment that was being carried on. Interested as I was in 
Russian literature, I had listened fascinatedly. It seemed 
from her descriptions that at long last that country had 
emerged from the semibarbarism of the Czarist regime and 
was building up a new society that might well be envied 
by many of the more advanced nations. Indeed, her enthusi- 
asm had been so contagious that I had wanted to go over 
there and see for myself. 

Yet this new social order had only been set up at the price 
of a violent and bloody revolution. The Russians, therefore, 
had been able to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. 

“You aren’t suggesting that we have a revolution over 
here, are you?” I asked apprehensively. 

“Good heavens, no!” she laughed. “The historical condi- 
tions in the U.S.S.R. were entirely different from what they 
are here. Over there, in view of the savage repression of the 
former regime, a bloody revolution was inevitable. But in 
the United States it’s another story. We can arrive at the 
same goal but by using peaceful means — legislation, col- 
lective bargaining, and so on. Little by little, the workers in 
this country can come to have more participation, financial 
and executive, in the affairs of production, until at last all 
the enterprises will become somewhat like cooperatives, 
with the former owners either selling out or becoming man- 
agers. From then on, the path to a new social order will be 
very smooth.” 

As she continued to talk, I found myself more and more 
impressed by what she said. Certainly, I thought, ever since 
my college days I had been convinced that the only decent 
future society would be based on the principles she had 


outlined. There was no going back to the old-fashioned, 
small-town world in which I had been brought up. All this 
had been replaced by a vast impersonal industrial civiliza- 
tion which somehow, if life was to have any meaning, must 
be reconciled with the basic Christian ideals that my parents 
had taught me. As far as I could see, the only way to do this 
was to set up a society that did away with the old motives 
of selfishness and greed and stressed the necessity of work- 
ing for the welfare of mankind. Indubitably, doing away 
with the profit motive and substituting the goal of social 
service was the only way to achieve the brotherhood of 
man that we hoped for. 

In retrospect, I wonder just why it was that Lee’s expla- 
nation of how we could build a better society impressed 
me so profoundly. Basically, I suppose, it was because I 
wanted passionately to believe that someday, no matter 
how far distant in the future, there would be a decent world 
where a man could work and live like a human being. Yet, 
actually, similar programs had been presented to me in the 
past and I had not felt that they were either sensible or prac- 

Was it perhaps because my experience with the American 
League Against War and Fascism had given me new hope? 
Certainly, if large numbers of decent Americans could be 
rallied together to fight against war and Fascism, those same 
people could be interested in building a new society. The 
average person, it seemed, was not so much uninterested as 
unaware of what was going on; once awakened, he could 
be a tremendous force for good. If all the little people, like 
myself, stood together and worked toward a common goal, 
there might indeed be hope for a better world. 

Or was it possibly because in my fear that we might be 

[i 6] 

dragged backward into the physical and intellectual slavery 
of Fascism, I was willing to accept any constructive plan 
that seemed halfway workable? After all, there was no 
guarantee that Lee’s ideas were not half-baked ones, as illu- 
sory as the others, but now was the time for action, I felt, 
and not for philosophizing. 

Yet, over and above this, there were probably other rea- 
sons for my mounting enthusiasm. Wasn’t it perhaps because 
I looked on Lee as a solid, practical person with her feet 
squarely on the ground — the sort of woman who would 
never indulge in idle daydreaming? Or, even more impor- 
tant, wasn’t it because her fervor and obvious sincerity 
had communicated themselves to me? Probably I shall 
never know the answer, yet the fact remains that after I 
had left her that night, I was beginning to be convinced she 
was right. 

During the next few days I thought over what Lee had 
said, and when I again ran into her I was quite ready to con- 
tinue the discussion. By then I was interested in how this 
program was going to be put into effect. After all, no 
movement could succeed without an adequate organization. 

“I suppose that when the League finishes fighting war 
and Fascism it will become the center of a movement to 
work toward this new society,” I said tentatively. 

“Perhaps,” Lee smiled, “but actually it’s a very large and 
unwieldy organization and it needs a smaller group of well- 
trained and well-disciplined people to give it a driving force. 
You know how the average person is. He tends to slump 
and grow uninterested unless he is urged to go on.” 

“But where are you going to find such a group?” I de- 

“You don’t have to find them,” she answered amusedly. 

1 17] 

“They already exist. In fact, they are the ones who hold 
the American League together and give it cohesiveness and 
driving force. Without them, the organization would mud- 
dle around and accomplish nothing. Well meaning as the 
average member is, he needs direction.” 

I found myself puzzled by her cryptic remarks. “Who 
are these people?” 

She looked at me appraisingly. “The Communists. They 
will be the ones who will rally around them all the progres- 
sive forces in this country and will lead them to a new soci- 

I stared at her in amazement. “Then you’re ... a 


“Yes, I’m a member of the American Communist Party,” 
she said quietly and waited for my reaction. 

I can’t remember whether or not I was shocked, but I 
was most certainly surprised. She didn’t look anything like 
my preconceived idea of a Communist. I had, to my knowl- 
edge, never met one before. Yet in the back of my mind I 
probably had tucked away a definite mental picture of what 
I had expected a Communist to look like. I struggled to 
bring that image into focus, but I found suddenly that I was 
having difficulties. Come to think of it, just what had I 
expected a Communist to look like? Certainly not the con- 
ventional portrait of a bearded terrorist with a bomb in 
either pocket. Perhaps, then, like the characters in the Ger- 
man play Man and the Masses which we had produced at 
Vassar — hungry, ill-clad revolutionaries, driven by despera- 
tion. No, not in the United States — more probably like the 
down-and-outers I saw around Union Square, the queer 
ones that argued with each other interminably in phrase- 


ology that I couldn’t understand. I found confusedly that 
I didn’t have a very clear picture in mind at all. I only knew 
I hadn’t expected that a Communist would look like Lee — 
well fed, nicely dressed, well balanced, and healthy. I sud- 
denly became aware that I was staring at her intently, as 
if she were a strange animal in the zoo, and I flushed with 

“You’re horrified, aren’t you?” she said with amusement. 

“No,” I replied truthfully, “I’m not. It’s just that you’re 
not the type.” 

“There isn’t any type,” she said scornfully. “We have all 
sorts of people in our ranks, all the way from poor workers 
up to middle-class people, like doctors, professors, lawyers. 
Why, in Teachers’ College you’d be surprised to find . . .” 
She stopped abruptly and looked at me warily: “I shouldn’t 
have said that; just forget it. And please don’t mention to 
anyone that I’m a Communist Party member. I told you 
that in confidence.” 

“I certainly won’t give you away,” I promised; then, puz- 
zled: “But why make such a secret about it?” 

“Personally, I don’t care,” she answered proudly. “I’d 
be willing to tell anyone. But you know as well as I do that 
Communists aren’t in good standing in this country; people 
seem to have the cockeyed idea that we’re terrorists carry- 
ing bombs. Actually, of course, we’re very normal people, 
except that we have a more highly developed social con- 
science than most. But to return to your question. With the 
current prejudice about Communists, it might be very diffi- 
cult for some of our comrades to get jobs if their affiliation 
were known. Therefore, unless we are in an environment 
where we can be accepted for what we are, we keep our 


membership secret. Even those of us who would be willing 
to come out in our true colors keep quiet in order to pro- 
tect the other comrades.” 

As I continued to look dubious, she went on: “I know 
what that New England mind of yours is thinking. It’s hy- 
pocrisy and you don’t approve of it. Well, it isn’t. If you 
were a lone Democrat in a strongly Republican community, 
and you found you would be ostracized if your political 
affiliations were known, wouldn’t you keep quiet?” 

Yes, I supposed she was right. As I had discovered by sad 
experience, especially in Italy, you could get yourself into a 
lot of hot water by defending unpopular views. And be- 
sides, nothing constructive was achieved anyway. 

As the days went by, I asked Lee more and more ques- 
tions about the Communist Party, all of which she answered 
cheerfully and patiently. It was, so she told me, a political 
party, like the Republicans and the Democrats, only much 
smaller; it differed from them, also, in that its structure was 
much more closely knit and its membership much better 
disciplined. The basic group in the organization was the 
“unit” and it consisted of two types: the “shop” unit (com- 
prising all the Communists in a given factory, office, or 
plant) and the “street” unit (organized according to a geo- 
graphical area and including all those who had no unit in 
their place of work). The units pyramided up to a “sec- 
tion,” the “sections” to a “district” and the “districts” up to 
the Central Committee — the ruling body of the American 
Communist Party. Moreover, the American Party had in- 
ternational affiliations — it was part of a worldwide federa- 
tion (somewhat like the League of Nations) which was 
composed of the Communist parties from many different 
countries. This body was called the Communist Interna- 


tional (the Comintern, for short) and its headquarters was 
located in Moscow, mainly because Russia was the only 
country that had set up Communism. 

Communists, so I gathered, were very hard-working 
people; no one was accepted for membership who was not 
willing to live up to the rigid obligations he assumed. 

Had I had any previous knowledge of the Communist 
Party, I would doubtless have been skeptical about its pro- 
gram, instead of accepting it, as I did, at face value. Unfor- 
tunately for me, however, my first acquaintance with the 
Party came during the famous “united front” period when 
the Communists had, to all intents and purposes, abandoned 
their former revolutionary aims and represented themselves 
as being the leaders of a coalition of all progressive forces 
to beat back the tide of war and Fascism and to work peace- 
fully toward a new world. I was, of course, not the only 
one who was taken in by this clever propaganda. A good 
share of the “liberals,” at least on the Columbia campus, 
hung around the outskirts of the Communist Party. Many 
of them became members, as I eventually did. Those who 
escaped did so not because of their intelligence or good 
intentions but, ironically enough, because they felt unable 
to make the sacrifices involved. And even many of these 
never tore themselves completely free; they remained 
around the fringes of the movement, helping the Commu- 
nists in small ways. 

Lee, evidently assured that I was interested in Com- 
munism and a trustworthy person, began gradually to 
introduce me to other Party members. I was surprised to 
learn that many members of the Teachers’ College branch 
of the League belonged to the movement. Hastily I re- 
vised my previous ideas. Communists, obviously, were not 


"hungry, ill-clad revolutionaries nor queer bums from the 
Union Square area. They were intelligent, respectable peo- 
ple, well thought of in the community — they dressed and 
lived just like any other normal American. Indeed, if any- 
thing, they were far better people than the average citizen; 
where others were out for themselves, they thought about 
the welfare of their neighbor. They seemed to be continu- 
ally engaged, at the sacrifice of a considerable amount of 
time and energy, in humanitarian projects, such as better 
housing for the poor, more relief for the underprivileged, 
and higher wages for the workers. It is they, I thought, who 
are the modern Good Samaritans. It is they who are putting 
into practice the old Christian ideals that I was brought up 
on. Why, I said to myself, they’re acting just as my mother 
taught me good Christians should. 

By now Lee had begun to suggest that if I agreed with 
the Communist program, I should join the Party. Each time 
she brought the subject up, however, I found myself be- 
coming very evasive. I would tell her I wanted more time 
to think the matter over. Actually, I think, I was convinced 
that Communism was the only solution to the world’s ills 
but I hesitated to take the final plunge. Lee got more and 
more exasperated. 

“Either you believe in Communism or you don’t,” she 
said finally, “and if you do, you have to join us and do 
something about making it come to pass.” 

“I do believe in it — at least I think I do,” I replied feebly, 
“but I’m not sure that I should join the Party. After all, 
there are so many considerations involved . . my voice 
trailed off into uncertainty. 

“You’re just ducking the issue,” she said accusingly. “If 


you really believe in something you combine action with 
theory. How many times have you complained to me about 
the so-called religious people who go to church nobly on 
Sunday and then spend the rest of the week cheating their 
fellow men! Well, you’re no better than they are. You 
haven’t the courage of your convictions.” 

I winced at her words. Yes, I had said that and I had 
meant it. Long before, I had given up any belief in organ- 
ized religion because I had felt that it was a travesty on the 
real ideals of Christianity. The well-fed parishioners who 
came to worship only to show off their clothes, the sleek 
missionaries who returned periodically to collect funds and 
talk condescendingly about the “poor, benighted heathen,” 
the suave ministers who carefully edited their sermons so 
that they wouldn’t offend the wealthy members of the con- 
gregation. That had no relation to the basic Christian con- 
cept of the brotherhood of man, I had thought; it was, in 
fact, sheer hypocrisy. 

Yet now I realized, starkly, that I, too, was a hypocrite. 
I was giving lip service to a belief and not living up to it in 
actual practice. Stunned at this discovery, I looked over at 
Lee to find that she was eyeing me hotly. 

“I thought you said that you had a ‘New England con- 
science,’ ” she said contemptuously. “Well, if you have, it 
ought to be bothering you pretty badly right now. How, 
feeling as you do, can you go to sleep in your comfortable 
bed each night and eat three good meals a day, knowing 
that less fortunate people are homeless, starving and living 
like animals. They’re your brothers, but you don’t care.” 
She slammed out the door and I sat down weakly on the 
bed, thinking she was perfectly right. I do believe in Com- 


munism, I said to myself firmly; it’s the only salvation for 
humanity. If I join the Communist Party, I can help to bring 
about a new social order in America. Why, then, am I 

If I did join, what would it mean to me personally? I 
would, of course, be embarking on a strange new life — 
leaving behind me all my past friends and associations and, 
in effect, closing the door on all that had gone before. That 
would be extremely difficult but it wasn’t the worst prob- 
lem. Becoming a Communist would mean that I would have 
to give all my time and energy to the Party, giving up per- 
sonal comforts and, such as it was, my social life. Could I 
make that sacrifice? And even if I could, was I willing to 
join a group that, in the eyes of the people I had grown up 
with, were social “outcasts”? I felt myself wavering. I 
wasn’t a martyr and I didn’t want to be one. Yet how could 
I believe something and not live up to it? 

Back and forth I vacillated during the next few weeks, 
struggling to decide what I should do, while the Commu- 
nists watched from the sidelines. Sometimes they were 
very friendly and welcomed discussions with me; some- 
times they gave me the “silent” treatment and left me 
severely to myself. Lee had moved out and taken a cheap 
walk-up apartment on West 1 24th Street, just off Amster- 
dam Avenue. Drawn by an irresistible magnet, I used to 
visit her there quite frequently, yet I was never sure of my 
reception. Sometimes she would be very cordial; we would 
discuss Communism animatedly and she would tell me what 
the Party was doing. Sometimes she would act as if she had 
no desire to see me, would retire into a corner with a book 
and ignore me pointedly. Occasionally, she would get very 


“Look,” she would say, “don’t try to get me to solve 
your problems. I’ve got enough on my hands already. I 
told you that you will never be happy until you coordinate 
your beliefs and what you do about them. After all, your 
ancestors had the courage to come all the way to this coun- 
try to find freedom of thought. They fought in the Ameri- 
can Revolutionary War, sometimes at the cost of their lives, 
in order to build up a decent civilization. We, the Commu- 
nists, are the pioneers of a new world order, just as your 
forebears were pioneers for humanity in their days. They 
wouldn’t have hesitated to fight for their beliefs, so why do 

After one of these sessions, I would crawl back home, 
feeling that I was indeed lower than the ugly things one 
found under a rock. Meanwhile, down in the city office of 
the League, Patch had attached himself to me, helping me 
with my work, eating lunch with me, and always the dis- 
cussions seemed to drift around to Communism. Patch, it 
seemed, had been thinking about joining the Party. He had, 
he said, decided to do so. Forlornly I looked at him. It 
seemed as though I was the only person who couldn’t make 
up her mind. You’re a coward, I said to myself, a miserable 
coward; you haven’t got the guts to fight for what you 
believe in. Patch was eyeing me sympathetically, as if he 
understood what I was going through. 

“I’ll wait for you to make up your mind,” he said, “and 
we can join together. That will give you the courage to 
take the plunge.” 

I wasn’t aware that this was one more clever psychologi- 
cal trick: unbeknownst to me, Patch had been a member for 
some time. Yet, though I felt very badly about refusing, I 
still hesitated. 


“No, Patch,” I said finally. “You make your decision and 
I’ll make mine.” 

For some time I continued in this state of vacillation, tor- 
tured by my inability to make a decision, until I think the 
Communists, persistent as they were, began to give up hope. 
Evidently they considered that I might continue indefinitely 
in this impasse and that I wasn’t worth wasting time on. 
When I asked them questions, they gave grudging answers 
and sometimes they would even look at me with contempt. 
One day I asked Lee whether a person joined the Commu- 
nist Party under his own name. She looked at me with an- 

“No, he doesn’t,” she said. “I told you that once before. 
He takes another name. But what do you care? You’re not 
going to join.” 

Night after night, I would walk the floor, trying to 
decide what I should do; somehow I knew that, unless I 
could make up my mind, I would never find peace. But I 
wouldn’t be joining a social club, I said to myself desper- 
ately. If it were something casual like that, I wouldn’t hesi- 
tate — after all, if I didn’t like what I found, I could always 
resign. But the Communist Party, I knew, was different. 
Once you decided to join, it was for keeps. It meant that 
once and for all I would have to take a definite stand — and 
stick by it. Could I do it? I didn’t know. It was so much 
easier to drift along and not commit myself to anything 

Time went by, and late one gray March afternoon in 
1935 I found myself sitting wearily in a chair, staring at the 
bare trees on Riverside Drive. I had just come back from 
another fruitless job search, and the bleak weather matched 
my mood. There just doesn’t seem to be any personal future 


for me, I thought despondently. I can’t get back into teach- 
ing, and with the business field overcrowded as it is it will 
probably be impossible to get a secretarial position, espe- 
cially with my lack of experience. Loneliness and despair 
crowded in on me; I craved companionship desperately. I 
thought of Lee. Her house was warm and friendly and there 
I could forget my troubles. Then I remembered that it was 
Tuesday, the day when all over the city the Communists 
had their weekly unit meetings. Well, hers wouldn’t be un- 
til eight o’clock and perhaps I could have a brief visit with 
her before then. 

Would she be glad to see me, I wondered. Probably not; 
she regarded me as a spineless individual who didn’t have 
the courage to stand up for her convictions. Why, I thought 
to myself, couldn’t I stop this mental seesawing and make a 
decision? After all, there was no doubt but that I believed 
in the Communist program. It was a simple, clean-cut, prac- 
tical explanation of the suffering and evil in the world; 
moreover, it offered a concrete way in which these evils 
could be remedied. And since I believed it, I would, as Lee 
had said, never be completely happy until I combined action 
with theory. True, it meant sacrifices, but nothing really 
important was achieved painlessly and besides the goal 
Communism offered was worthwhile giving up many things 
for. After all, I thought to myself, I am part of the “lost” 
depression generation. There will never be any great per- 
sonal future for me — if I can manage to keep my head 
above water, I’ll be doing well. But at least I can see to it 
that the generations of the future don’t have to go through 
what we did. I could help build a new world where such 
conditions were a thing of the past. 

I stopped pacing the floor, finding suddenly that I had 


made up my mind. In that moment it seemed as though all 
my doubts and hesitations had been wiped away: I knew I 
belonged with the Communists and was going to join them. 
Hurriedly I put on my hat and coat and walked over to 
Lee’s house, where I found her curled up with the Daily 
Worker while the dinner simmered on the stove. She looked 
up at me with a frown, putting the paper aside. 

“You can’t stay long,” she said. “The unit bureau is meet- 
ing here in half an hour.” 

I still wasn’t too well acquainted with the set-up of the 
Communist Party, but I did know what she meant. Each 
unit had a governing body which was called the “bureau”; 
it was composed of the leader (the “organizer”), the edu- 
cational director (the “agit-prop” — a shortening of the 
longer phrase “agitation-propaganda”), and the financial 
secretary (the “finance sec”). It was this group that, in 
addition to their specific duties, met weekly, usually just 
before the unit meeting; discussed the affairs of the cell, 
and drew up an agenda of things to be taken up by the com- 

“I won’t be a moment, Lee,” I said. “I just want to sign 
an application to join the Party.” 

She stared at me a moment without speaking. Then she 
got up from her seat on the window sill and came slowly 
toward me. “Are you quite serious about it?” 

“Yes,” I said quietly. “It has taken me some time to de- 
cide but at last I’m completely sure I know what I’m 

She smiled at me then. “I’m very glad. You’ll never regret 
your decision.” She moved over to the desk and began rum- 
aging through it as she talked. “I don’t believe I have any 


application forms here. No! I think I used the last one just 
the other day.” 

It was an anticlimax. Here I had finally found the cour- 
age to join the Communist Party and there were no appli- 
cation blanks. Lee laughed at the downcast expression on 
my face. 

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ll get one from the organizer 
when he comes this evening and then I’ll fill it in and submit 
it to the bureau. Two sponsors are needed. Comrade Leonard 
and I can sign because we know you the best. I’m quite sure 
the unit will accept you as a member. A lot of people, unbe- 
knownst to you, know you and will vote to take you on.” 
She picked up a pencil and made notes on a piece of paper. 
“I know most of the essential data about you. Let’s see, 
you’re still unemployed, aren’t you? Good. Now, what 
name do you want to take?” 

I hadn’t thought about the matter up till then, yet there 
seemed to be only one possible name. I was a New Eng- 
lander of old American stock; I was the pioneer who was 
carrying on the traditions of human liberty that my ances- 
tors had fought for. 

“I’ll take the name ‘Elizabeth Sherman,’ ” I said. “I am a 
descendant of Roger Sherman — the man who signed the 
Declaration of Independence for the state of Connecticut. 
His sister’s name was Elizabeth.” 

“That’s a good idea,” she said, writing the name down. 
“Now here’s the address where our meeting is being held 
tonight. We meet in different comrades’ homes. We change 
every week to insure that no outsiders get in.” 

I looked at the slip of paper she handed me. It gave the 
number of an apartment on the sixth floor of a building that 


stretched from West 123rd Street to West 124th Street, just 
off Broadway. 

“Come at eight o’clock,” she added. 

“What do I do when I get there?” I asked helplessly. 

She laughed. “Just knock on the door and someone will 
let you in. We’ll be expecting you.” Then she crossed the 
room and held out her hand warmly to me: “Welcome to 
our ranks — comrade!” 

As I went down the worn stairs to the street, I felt sud- 
denly very much at peace with the world. Now at last I 
was where I had always belonged — with the people who 
were fighting for a decent society. As I walked toward Am- 
sterdam Avenue, I forgot that it was a gray, dismal day and 
that piles of dirty snow lay in heaps on the pavement. For 
me it was a beautiful world, full of hope. Mingled with a 
sense of profound peace was a strange exaltation. Somehow 
I felt released from all the bonds that had tied me down. 

We will build a new world, I thought to myself, a world 
in which there will be no suffering, no poverty, no pain! 

[ 3°1 


At eight that night I stood in front of the apartment; 
I could hear the sound of voices inside. I knocked and 
there was silence; then the door opened and a short, stocky 
man with close-cropped dark hair stuck his head out. 

“Yes?” he said, uncertainly. 

Just what do I say now, I wondered. I was reminded of 
prohibition days, when you knocked on the doors of speak- 
easies and said that “Charlie” had sent you. 

“Lee told me to come here,” I said tentatively. 

“Oh,” he smiled. “Come on in.” 

Inside, the small living room was warm and homelike but 
utterly inadequate for the twenty-five or so people who 
overflowed onto windows sills, arms of chairs, and on the 
floor. A number of familiar faces smiled greetings. Good 
heavens, I thought to myself, I didn’t know they all were 
Communists. A comrade occupying a chair at the other 
end of the room got up and motioned for me to take it, so 
I climbed carefully over several people squatting on the 
floor and sat down, feeling unduly conspicuous. 

The meeting, it seemed, was just starting. Interestedly I 
sat back and listened to the proceedings. It was a long and 
evidently well-prepared agenda, and under the expert di- 
rection of the chairman item after item went through 

[ 3 1 ] 

smoothly. The organizer read the directives from the sec- 
tion — books to be read, tasks to be accomplished; the agit- 
prop gave a lecture on the current problems facing the 
Party; various comrades reported on work they had done 
in campus organizations. I was impressed by the serious way 
in which these people behaved. Although by then more 
than two hours had passed, they didn’t seem restless — they 
neither fidgeted nor looked at their watches. They seemed 
utterly engrossed in what was going on. In the brief inter- 
mission when the comrades got up to stretch their legs, the 
finance sec collected dues and the literature agent sold pub- 
lications. I found myself next to two old friends. 

“How do you like the Party?” one of them asked. 

“It’s amazing,” I said. “I’ve never seen such an earnest 
and well-disciplined group of people.” 

The first one smiled. “That’s the strength of the Party; 
it’s composed of men and women who care enough about 
their principles to subordinate everything else to them.” 
The chairman, who was also the organizer, was calling 
the meeting to order again. Hastily I asked who he was. 

“Oh, that’s Comrade X,” said the second comrade. “He’s 
a food worker over in the cafeteria. This is a shop unit that 
takes in all the graduate school — professors and students, 
and also the maintenance men.” 

A food worker! Out of all the intellectuals available, the 
unit had chosen a plain, ordinary worker for their organ- 
izer. This, I thought to myself as I went back to my seat, is 
really democracy. In the Communist Party it doesn’t matter 
what your background is, it’s your ability that counts. 

As the meeting continued, I found myself increasingly 
impressed by the discipline of the members. They even 
seemed to have reached that stage of impersonality where 


they could view their own actions with complete detach- 
ment — knowing and admitting when they had been wrong, 
without trying to rationalize or excuse themselves. This, I 
later learned, was a basic concept of Communism and was 
called “Bolshevik self-criticism.” How many people, I won- 
dered, would be able to admit their shortcomings to them- 
selves, let alone stand up before a group as large as this and 
analyze their conduct so dispassionately. I came out of my 
reverie to realize that a small comrade on the other side of 
the room was being chided by the finance sec for being 
behind in his dues. 

“I know,” he said quietly, “I should have paid them on 
time and there’s no excuse for my being in arrears. I’ll bring 
all the money next time.” 

If that had been me, I thought, I would have tried to give 
some good excuse, but this man is grown up enough to 
accept criticism when it is justified. What a really mature 
group of people they are. In pursuit of an ideal they have 
been able to divest themselves of all their petty personal 
emotions. Suddenly I felt very humble in their midst. 
Never, I thought desperately, will I be able to live up to 
their standards. 

The meeting broke up quite late. On my way home I 
went with a group of comrades to a nearby cafeteria for a 
cup of coffee. I sat and listened while they continued to dis- 
cuss current problems, now and then stopping to explain 
some point to me. More and more I found myself impressed 
with their intelligent grasp of world affairs. I hoped wist- 
fully that someday I, too, would have developed such a 
keen brain. 

And I wished I had their energy. Already it was well past 
midnight, yet, although undoubtedly most of them had to 

[ 33 ] 

get up early and go to work, none of them showed the. 
slightest inclination to leave. Struggling to keep my eyes 
open, I wondered drowsily whether this was a special occa- 
sion or whether they did this every week. Later, I was to 
discover that these long-drawn-out post-unit meeting dis- 
cussions over a cup of coffee were almost a ritual in those 
semiopen days of the Party. You could walk into any cheap 
cafeteria late on a Tuesday night and find a similar group 
huddled together, talking animatedly. 

For the next month or so I continued to be attached to 
the Columbia unit, attending its weekly meetings, pay- 
ing my dues (mine were, as I recall, ten cents a week be- 
cause I was unemployed), and working in the Teachers’ 
College branch of the American League. Automatically, 
too, I became a member of the Communist “fraction” (or 
caucus) in the League, which meant an extra meeting since 
we always got together once a week to decide what policies 
should be presented to the organization. 

I finally found a job. I was hired as a case worker for 
New York City’s Emergency Home Relief Bureau. 

This new status meant that I had to be shifted to a new 
Communist unit operating in my place of work. Carefully 
I filled out a form in triplicate — one copy to remain with 
the Columbia unit; another to go to the Harlem section, 
and the third, together with my newly acquired Communist 
Party membership book, was to be presented by me to the 
organizer of my new cell. I was given her name and told 
to look her up but, until we made connections, I was to 
continue to report to my old unit. 

Making contact with Comrade H. proved to be extremely 
difficult. The Relief office was so set up that it was almost 
impossible to locate anyone who didn’t work on the same 

[ 34 ] 

floor with one, and when I was able to find out her lunch 
time and to arrange to meet her “accidentally” in the hail, 
even then she was with two other people. I took my courage 
into my hands. It was now or never. 

“Could I speak to you a moment?” I asked hesitantly. 

She looked at me searchingly (as I discovered later, she 
had been told that a new comrade was to report to her but, 
not knowing my real name, she had been unable to con- 
tact me) and I felt somehow terrified at her steady gaze. 
Suppose she wasn’t the right person? 

Aware that she was eyeing me impatiently, I managed to 
find words. “The section told me to look you up.” 

Her glance didn’t shift; if anything, it became sharper. 
“Yes? Well, in that case, meet me up there tomorrow 

She turned on her heel and walked down the stairs, leav- 
ing me feeling completely inadequate. It was the right 
person, I thought with relief, but now what did I do? For 
all my glib talk about the section, I didn’t even know where 
it was located. And what in the world would I do when I 
got there? 

On my way home I stopped off to see Lee, who was 
amused but sympathetic. The Harlem section, she said, was 
located on the second floor of a building on Lenox Avenue, 
near 131st Street. It was plainly labeled and I couldn’t pos- 
sibly miss it. Once there, I should just sit down somewhere 
and wait for Comrade H.; when she came I should show 
her my credentials and everything would straighten itself 

I didn’t like the idea of having to wander around Harlem 
alone at night, but in the face of Lee’s serene courage I 
found I was ashamed to mention the fact. Moreover, all 

[ 35 ] 

these strange conspiratorial arrangements worried me. I 
couldn’t understand why in the world things had to be man- 
aged this way. I started to ask her why, then I abruptly 
stopped. After all, I was only a new recruit. I knew very 
little about the movement. Impressed as I was by the intel- 
ligence and sincerity of the Communists I had met, I was 
quite willing to concede that the Party knew better than I 
did. After all, they had had much more experience. 

Although I was unaware of it at the time, by this decision 
on my part to trust the Party rather than my own judgment 
I had taken the first step toward becoming a Communist in 
deed as well as in name. One of the first phases in trans- 
forming a young idealist into a hardened revolutionary is 
to imbue him with a terrific sense of his own inadequacy, 
to make him so humble that he refuses to use his own pow- 
ers of reason and relies confidently on the decisions of the 
Party. Why I, being the individualist that I was, confidently 
placed my future in the hands of others, I shall never know. 
I can only attribute it to that thing called “faith” that leads 
one to trust blindly in something that is bigger than one- 

The following night I climbed the rickety stairs to the 
second floor of 415 Lenox Avenue and stared about me. It 
was, I discovered, much like the city office of the American 
League — bare, badly lighted, grimy. People were running 
about madly, operating the aged mimeograph machine, ty- 
ing up stacks of literature, having hurried conferences. No 
one paid the least attention to me. I sat down on a wooden 
bench in a corner, forlornly, and waited. Fifteen minutes 
later, Comrade H. bustled in, followed by three other 
people. When she spied me, her face lighted up and she 
rushed over. 


“I’m so glad you came,” she said happily. “I didn’t mean 
to be curt yesterday, but I have to be very careful in the 
office. The Bureau doesn’t even approve of unions, let alone 
Communists. You never know who’s listening in on con- 
versations and reporting back to the authorities.” Hur- 
riedly, she introduced the three people with her. “There’s 
only four of us and we can certainly use one more. Now, 
let’s see if we can find a room where we can talk the situa- 
tion over.” 

From then on, things moved so fast that I found my head 
spinning. In a daze, I tried to assimilate all the information 
that poured in. The main job of the Communist unit in our 
precinct, I discovered, was to build up the Home Relief 
Bureau workers’ union, which later on was absorbed into 
the very left-wing United Public Workers Union. The 
going was rough, I learned, not only because the city au- 
thorities were definitely antiunion but because the social 
workers in this particular office knew nothing about unions, 
didn’t understand their purpose, and hence were totally 
uninterested in the problem. It was our task to educate our 
fellow investigators, make them understand the principles 
of unionism, and get them to sign up. This would be diffi- 
cult, in view of the fact that we had to work undercover, 
which seemed a bit odd to me. Then I remembered that, 
although legally every American had the right to join a 
union of his own choosing, in actual practice it worked out 
quite differently. Employers, I had discovered, often fought 
bitterly against unionization because it meant they had to 
pay more wages. 

While I was still trying to straighten out the union situa- 
tion, I found that the conversation had shifted to the prob- 
lems of the unit proper. Before I knew what was happening, 

[ 37 ] 

I found that I had been elected agit-prop — or educational 

“But, Comrade H.,” I protested, “I’ve only been a Party 
member for a little over a month; I don’t know the least 
thing about Communist theory!” 

She laughed. “These other three comrades are even 
newer in the Party than you are. I’m the only one that’s had 
any experience. But we have to have an agit-prop and 
you’re elected to do the job. And don’t look so upset. I’m 
sure you’ll be able to handle the situation.” 

I stared at her helplessly. Not only did I feel inadequate 
to handle the job but I frankly didn’t see where I was going 
to find time and energy to do all these things. From now on, 
I realized, I would have four meetings a week — unit, unit 
bureau, union, union “fraction” — and besides I would have 
the added responsibility of being the educational director! 
I started to protest again and then I fell silent. I had joined 
the Party knowing full well that it would involve hard 
work, and I wasn’t going to back out now. 

I threw myself enthusiastically into the work of building 
up our rather small local, because I felt that a good strong 
one was definitely needed in our precinct. Working con- 
ditions there were really frightful. Most of the investigators 
kept their jobs only because they had to eat. We were based 
in a fire-trap building, so overcrowded that there was often 
no place to sit down and write reports. The lighting was 
poor and the sanitary facilities worse. Case loads were 
unbearably heavy. This fact, plus the unnecessarily large 
amount of paper work involved, left most of us continually 
struggling to keep our heads above water. Theoretically, 
we were supposed to work from nine in the morning to 
five at night, with an hour off for lunch; but in practice a 


conscientious investigator had to skip lunch (or grab a b'lte 
in five minutes), work madly all day, and even take his case 
book home that evening. 

After a month or two in the Home Relief Bureau, a new 
case worker would begin to look haggard and hollow eyed. 
The accelerated pace, the physical strain of climbing many 
flights of stairs during the day (most relief clients lived on 
the top floors of walk-up apartment houses where the rent 
was cheap), the long evenings spent writing up case his- 
tories — all these had taken their toll. The result was that, 
generally, if an investigator didn’t become cynical, bother- 
ing little about clients, he either left his job or cracked up. 

To me, conditions were intolerable. The interest, I found, 
was in saving money rather than in really helping the needy. 
An investigator’s standing was judged more on his ability 
to “close up” cases (whether justly or unjustly didn’t seem 
to matter) than on his handling of clients. Anything above 
a bare minimum of relief was given grudgingly. Even 
though little extras (such as cod-liver oil for the children 
and blankets) were available, I used to have to fight furi- 
ously to get them for my clients. 

Perhaps the thing that horrified me the most was the 
immense amount of “red tape” surrounding the initial giv- 
ing of relief. An applicant had to fill out innumerable papers 
and then wait three or four weeks before his first check 
came through. In the waiting period, he was given nothing, 
and if he had reached starvation level he simply had to go 

Sometimes kind-hearted Home Relief Bureau investigat- 
ors took money out of their pockets and gave it to these 
applicants. We had to be very careful, however, because if 
we were found out, we would lose our jobs. And yet it was 

[ 39 ] 

very difficult to sit by and see such unnecessary suffering 
without being able to help. I remember the day I went to 
see an old colored Pullman porter who had applied for re- 
lief. I found him sitting quietly in a shabby furnished room, 
obviously unhappy that he had to beg for food. I needed to 
verify the fact that he had lived in New York City long 
enough to be eligible, so I asked him if he had any gas or 
telephone bills to prove his residence. When he shook his 
head, I told him he would have to go to a notary and sign 
a statement affirming that he had lived in New York the 
proper length of time. That, I said, would cost him a quar- 
ter. Sadly he looked at me. 

After admitting he had been living on doughnuts and 
coffee, provided by his next-door neighbor, for the last 
week, “Miss,” he said quietly, “if I’d have had a quarter, I’d 
have eaten it.” 

I walked out, seething with rage. It would take three 
weeks to get that man on relief and meanwhile God knows 
how he would eat. Brought up as I was in a small town 
where neighborliness prevailed, I considered it a disgrace 
to let a man go hungry. Most people did not try to chisel 
off the Home Relief Bureau. They were decent people, 
eager to work but unable to find jobs. It’s not their fault 
that they’re forced to beg, I thought; they have a right to 
be treated like human beings. 

What especially upset me was that when I reported this 
to the supervisor at the Relief office she shrugged her shoul- 
ders. There wasn’t any use bothering about it, she said cyni- 
cally. After all he’s only a Negro. (It was an area that dealt 
mainly with Negro relief.) That, sadly enough, seemed to 
be the general attitude at the Relief Bureau. I wondered 


how people could feel that way and still call themselves 

In contrast, I was continually impressed with the humane 
and practical way in which a Communist dealt with social 
problems. If a family was dispossessed, he would waste no 
time in asking foolish questions but would act swiftly. 

First, he would store the family’s furniture temporarily 
in, say, the garage of a friend of his. Next, he would take 
the hungry group to his house and feed them. After that, 
he would find them a bed for the night and set about getting 
them a permanent home. When that had been accomplished, 
he would persuade the unhappy family to join a Harlem 
committee to petition the mayor to do something about 
better housing for the area. To me, that seemed the ideal 
plan for improving poor conditions; first, extend help to 
the individual as a person and then, when that was done, 
work out a long-range plan to solve the problem in general. 

But the impact of what I had seen in Harlem was not the 
only factor in my increasing belief in Communism. There 
were many other experiences, some of which stand out viv- 
idly in my mind. There was the meeting that I had with an 
advanced student — whom I shall call Edwin — at Union 
Theological Seminary back in the spring of 1935. Harold 
Patch had introduced me to him because he wanted me to 
co-sign Edwin’s application for membership in the Party. I 
asked him why he wanted to join, and with eyes aglow he 
tried to explain his beliefs. 

“The old Christianity is dead, Elizabeth,” he said 
thoughtfully. “Christ came to this earth to preach the 
brotherhood of man, but most people seem to have forgot- 
ten. They are too immersed in making money and getting 


ahead in the world. I’ve always wanted to be a minister 
of Christ, but somehow, until I discovered the doctrine of 
Communism, I was nauseated with the rotten hypocrisy of 
the average churchgoer, not to mention the attitude of the 
clergy.” Then he smiled, and I felt that at long last he had 
found what he was looking for. “I’m convinced that Com- 
munism is the Christianity of the future, that I, as a poten- 
tial Christian minister, must per se be a Communist, even 
though it will be a very hard life. Does that startle you?” 
No, it didn’t. In fact, it only confirmed what I had been 
thinking for several months. Yet I was worried about his 
future. Would this new-found allegiance of his stand in the 
way of his being ordained the following year? I asked him 
whether or not he had broached his ideas to anyone at 
Union Theological Seminary and, if so, what they thought. 

“Yes,” Edwin said cheerfully. “I’ve talked to Dr. Harry 
Ward about the question of my joining the Communist 
Party. He’s not a member, as you know, but he told me that 
I should follow the dictates of my own conscience. In fact, 
he indicated that my membership would make absolutely 
no difference in my being ordained.” He paused for a mo- 
ment and looked at me. “You know, it’s funny, but I would 
swear he approved the step I am taking.” 

Yes, that was quite possibly true; Harry Ward was one 
of the big-shots in the American League and I had met him 
there. He was a lean, determined little man in his sixties, 
obviously one who would always fight for what he believed 
in, regardless of the cost. I had known he was sympathetic 
to Communism, so Edwin’s statement didn’t in the least 
surprise me. I felt, as I had before, that Communism was the 
religion of the future. Christianity had arisen as the advocate 
of the poor and oppressed, and in the course of natural 


events it had degenerated into the toy of the wealthy; now 
Communism would take its place as the exponent of the 
brotherhood of man. 

Edwin joined the Party, and very soon thereafter two 
other students at Union Theological Seminary applied for 
membership. One was a prospective preacher who, like 
Edwin, had not yet been ordained; the other was a min- 
ister who had been doing missionary work in Japan for 
several years and had returned to the United States to take 
a few refresher courses. About the latter, I worried con- 
siderably, since I knew the Communist Party was illegal 
over there. Perhaps, if I certified him for membership, he 
would be going back to his death. He smiled tranquilly 
when I put the question to him. 

“Don’t worry, Elizabeth, I’m not afraid. Years ago I put 
my life into the hands of God and promised Him that I 
would live only for His purposes. I’ve lived austerely and 
worked extremely hard, but I’ve always been happy in the 
thought that I was living up to my ideals. I’ve thought 
about Communism for a long time now and I’m convinced 
that it is the Christianity of the future. I want to join the 
Communist Party and work for the brotherhood of man. 
It may cost me my life but that’s immaterial. Will you deny 
me the right to fight for what I believe in?” 

I shook my head and found, to my distress, that tears 
were flowing down my face. Hastily, I pulled myself to- 
gether and signed his Party card. 

“Goodbye and good luck for all the years in the future,” 
I said, feeling that he was a far better person than I would 
ever be. “You now have three Communist Party members 
in Union Theological Seminary and that is sufficient to 
make a unit. Tell Edwin to check with the Harlem section 

1 43 3 

and they will give him directives. You won’t have to see 
me again.” 

He smiled gently. I knew with finality that I would never 
see him again. “Goodbye and thank you, Comrade Eliza- 
beth. I shall try to make a very good Communist.” 

There was the time when I joined a citywide demonstra- 
tion to induce the New York City authorities to put out 
more money for relief. It was a cold, dreary day and the 
dirty snow lay piled in heaps on the pavement; Mayor 
LaGuardia — who didn’t quite know how to cope with the 
demands of the unemployed — had forbidden us to march, 
under the odd pretext that the streets were too slippery and 
we might fall and injure ourselves. But we marched any- 
way, led by Vito Marcantonio — at that time a small-time 
lawyer who had been a law partner of LaGuardia’s and later 
Congressman from New York. It was perhaps my first 
experience with violence: I saw Marc bundled into a 
New York police “paddy-wagon” — after having been thor- 
oughly kicked in the shins — for consignment to “protective 
custody” (LaGuardia claimed that Marcantonio’s life was 
threatened by the mob!). I saw the New York police ride 
their horses into the crowd and knock the demonstrators 
sprawling into the gutters. For the first time in my life I 
found myself in the grip of an uncontrollable rage; people 
shouldn’t be kicked around like that. 

In the excitement, my hands were clasped in those of 
two marchers, one on either side of me. “Come on, com- 
rades, we won’t stand for this sort of nonsense. If they want 
violence, we’ll give it to them.” 

Why I wasn’t arrested that day is still a major mystery; 
carried beyond myself, I stumbled over fallen marchers 
and battled with the police, caring nothing about what hap- 

[ 44 ] 

pened to me. When we finally picked ourselves up and 
straggled on down to the Port Authority Building, via side 
streets, I found myself singing hoarsely the first words of 
the Communist Internationale — “arise, ye prisoners of star- 
vation; arise, ye wretched of the earth! ” 

In the spring of 1935 I was approached by Pauline 
Rogers, executive secretary of the American League. Up 
till then, I had had very little to do with her, although I do 
remember that she had come out of her office to congratu- 
late me when I announced that I had joined the Party. 
But then, so had almost everyone else; for, with few excep- 
tions, the whole staff turned out to be Communists. 

That day, however, she wandered out to where I was 
working and sat down beside me. She was, she said, sorry 
that I would have to leave, but was I still interested in the 
problem of combating Italian Fascist propaganda in this 
country? I replied that of course I was, but that I probably 
wouldn’t have too much spare time, not with my heavy 
schedule in the Relief Bureau. She looked at me thought- 

“I have a friend who’s working in that field,” she said, 
“and she badly needs help right now. Unfortunately, she 
doesn’t know the language and besides she hasn’t been over 
to Italy recently. You could be of great assistance to her if 
you could spare a little time.” 

“I don’t know,” I started dubiously, thinking of the 
many tasks I had lined up. Then my interest in Italian Fas- 
cism got the better of me: “Why, yes, I guess so.” 

“Good,” she replied briskly, “but remember, you must 
never mention this to anyone — even in the Party. She’s in 
direct contact with underground anti-Fascists in Italy and 
we can’t afford to risk their lives.” 

[ 45 ] 

None of this seemed in the least odd to me, because I 
knew from personal experience how dangerous it was to 
be against Mussolini in Italy. 

The next day at tea time I met Pauline at Childs with a 
rather heavy-set woman in a shapeless brown hat and non- 
descript brown tweed coat. Pauline hurriedly introduced 
her as Mrs. Juliet Glazer and then said that she had to rush 
back to the office, leaving me somewhat at a loss. Mrs. Gla- 
zer seemed to sense my awkwardness. She smiled suddenly 
and I realized that, even with her straggly brown hair and 
rather plain face, she had beautiful brown eyes. 

“Let’s have some tea, shall we?” 

The voice was cultured, the accent probably New Eng- 
land. We chatted inconsequentially for a little while. From 
her remarks I got the impression she came from an old 
American family, that she was a widow living on a small 
but adequate income and doing research work in the 
Columbia University library to keep herself occupied. No 
mention was made of Italian anti-Fascist work, although 
she did tell me she had been a Communist for some years. 
At the end she glanced at her watch and said she had an 
appointment. Would I, she asked, come over to her house 
the following week for a late tea? 

The address she gave me was on west 74th Street, just 
off Riverside Drive. When I arrived there I found it was a 
brick building that had quite evidently once been a one- 
family residence. I pushed her bell and at the answering 
buzz went up the old-fashioned carpeted stairs to the sec- 
ond floor where Mrs. Glazer, waiting in the doorway, 
beckoned me into the living room. As I glanced around, I 
noticed that, while not richly furnished, it certainly wasn’t 
shabby; the living room was fairly spacious and there 


seemed to be a bedroom to the right, behind curtained glass 
doors. Mrs. Glazer began to putter around in the small 
kitchenette that, together with the bathroom, led off the 
other end of the living room. 

“I’ll be right in,” she said cheerfully. “I’m just getting the 
tea ready.” 

We chatted for a good two hours, at the end of which I 
felt that I knew no more about Mrs. Glazer — her personal 
life, her work in the Italian anti-Fascist movement — than 
I had before. She had, I realized, spent most of her time ask- 
ing me about my family, educational background, political 
beliefs, present job. Well, I thought to myself, I really can’t 
blame her for wanting to know all about me. After all, she 
has to be sure I am trustworthy. 

Yet, when the third meeting over tea produced no fur- 
ther results, I began to wonder. After all, she seemed like a 
nice person and I enjoyed talking to her, but that wasn’t the 
purpose for which I had come. 

On my fourth visit she served me highballs instead of 
tea. I took one and then politely refused the second. “The 
little puritan!” she said mockingly. “Are you always this 

In those days I still felt annoyed when someone taunted 
me with being unsophisticated, but I bit my lip and ex- 
plained again, patiently, that I wasn’t being “holier than 
thou” — that I just didn’t like alcohol. 

To this she made no answer but shrugged her shoulders 
as if to suggest that she didn’t believe a word I said. Then 
she began to talk vaguely about the underground movement 
in Europe, dwelling especially on the work of women there. 
They often had to perform unpleasant tasks and had to do 
a lot of drinking and sleep with many men. Although I 

[ 47 ] 

prided myself on not being a “prude,” I was nauseated not 
only by her choice of subjects but by her obvious relish in 
discussing them. Her talk didn’t make sense to me (it 
sounded actually like something out of a lurid book) and I 
couldn’t see why she took such morbid delight in dwelling 
on ugly details. When I tried to steer the conversation to 
another topic, however, she would laugh and say I was a 
“hot-house flower,” that I didn’t have the stamina to face 
the facts of life. Communists, she would say, should be made 
of sterner stuff and I had a lot to learn before I would make 
a good revolutionary. 

Probably I was more disturbed by all this than I was will- 
ing to admit to myself, not because I believed anything she 
told me but because I began to wonder whether she was all 
there mentally. Finally I telephoned Pauline Rogers, in- 
tending to tell her that I felt I could not continue with Mrs. 
Glazer. After all, there was no reason why I had to sit 
around and listen to her talk like that when she seemed to 
have no intention of giving me any anti-Fascist work to do. 
Pauline, unfortunately, could not be reached. Well, I would 
see Mrs. Glazer just once more, ask her just what she 
wanted me to do, if anything, and then decide whether or 
not to continue seeing her. 

A few days before our next meeting, however, the tele- 
phone rang at midnight; when I climbed sleepily out of bed 
and picked up the receiver, I found that it was Mrs. Glazer 
on the other end. 

“Come on over,” she said. “I want to talk to you.” 

“At this hour?” I said, shaking myself awake. “Why, 
Mrs. Glazer, it’s twelve o’clock and I have to be at work at 
nine tomorrow. I can’t come now! ” 


“You must!” her voice was urgent. “There’s something 
important that’s come up and I must see you.” 

At last! This must be the important work Pauline Rogers 
had mentioned. But why did it have to come in the middle 
of the night like this? Well, I was half awake anyway and 
Mrs. Glazer’s house was only ten blocks away. 

“All right,” I said sleepily, “I’ll be there just as soon as I 
can get dressed.” 

Hurriedly I threw on some clothes and stumbled down the 
service stairs. Outside, the wind was blowing furiously and 
I fought to keep my hat on my head. As I battled my way 
doggedly down Riverside Drive, the black shadows of the 
trees swayed ominously on the pavement and my footsteps 
echoed hollowly in the deserted street. By now, I was wide 
awake and beginning to feel frightened. What was I walk- 
ing into anyway? All my previous doubts about Mrs. Glazer 
came back to haunt me. Was this a genuine thing — or was 
she drunk or crazy or what? I was half inclined to turn 
around and go back home but I fought down my panic. 
You’re being childish, I said to myself firmly and, setting 
my jaw, continued on. 

Mrs. Glazer, self-possessed as ever, greeted me cordially 
at the door, waved me to a seat on the sofa, offered me a 
drink and then sat down opposite me. Impatiently I waited 
for her to tell me why she had summoned me out at this late 
hour, but she continued to talk leisurely about the under- 
ground movement in Italy. I glanced at my watch. An hour 
had passed and nothing had been accomplished. The 
thought of my comfortable bed waiting for me at home be- 
came intolerable; my annoyance exploded into words. 

“Mrs. Glazer,” I said, and my voice was icy, “you have 

[ 49 ] 

dragged me out of bed at an ungodly hour to come down 
here on some supposedly urgent business and yet you have 
said nothing about it. Just what do you want?” As I talked, 
I found my anger mounting. “After all, I do have to earn a 
living and it’s important that I get enough sleep to keep on 

She smiled at me. “My dear, you don’t have to keep that 
miserable job in the Home Relief Bureau. You don’t like 
it and there’s no reason why you should beat out your 
brains there. What did you tell me you really wanted to do? 
Oh, yes, you said that if you had the money you would get 
a Ph.D. in sociology and then find a teaching position. Well, 
that dream can easily be realized. I have inherited a great 
deal of money — more than I can ever use myself — and I will 
be glad to finance you until you get your degree.” 

She paused for a moment to note my reaction, then she 
went on. 

“You see, my dear, I like you very much and I feel that 
you would be very valuable in the Italian anti-Fascist move- 
ment. But you really can’t do much as long as you are tied 
down with a job that keeps you worn out all the time. Why 
don’t you just give it up and let me take care of things from 
here on in?” 

I stared at her, wondering whether all this was really hap- 
pening to me. This sounded too good to be true. Here was 
the chance to get back into the teaching field and in a sub- 
ject that my social- work experience had convinced me was 
a very important one. Above all, I could get away from 
Harlem and its misery and back into the old academic at- 
mosphere, at the same time being able to contribute to the 
fight against Fascism. I wavered. The comfortable sofa, the 
drink, and Mrs. Glazer’s seeming kindness were having a 

[ 5 ° ] 

softening effect on me. She really is a nice person, I said to 
myself, even though she does have her peculiar moments. 
Who else that I have ever known has shown such thought- 
fulness? All the doubts I had ever had about her vanished. 
She was a thoroughly good person and my heart warmed to 

I found myself just about to open my mouth and accept 
her kind offer, when suddenly all my stiff-necked old Yan- 
kee pride rose up in defiance. I couldn’t take money from 
someone else, no matter how well meaning they were. I 
had to earn my own way in the world. Disagreeable as it 
was to work in the Home Relief Bureau, I would have to 
stick it out. After all, many other people had far worse 
jobs than I had. Reluctantly, I said farewell to a beautiful 
dream. It had been nice while it lasted. 

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Glazer,” I said gently, “but I really 
couldn’t accept money from you. It was very kind of you 
to suggest it. But, well, I just couldn’t. Perhaps someday, 
when and if I do have a decent job, I can come back and help 

Her face hardened and her mouth set in a taut, hard line. 
“Well, the little puritan again! The little girl who doesn’t 
like to drink, who is shocked at my stories about under- 
ground life in Europe, who nobly turns down my offer of 
money. Why don’t you grow up? ” She looked at me a mo- 
ment and then went on, mockingly, “You’re living on illu- 
sions, my friend. You, with your bourgeois ideas of getting 
married and raising a brood of children! You, with your 
decadent New England pride that won’t let you accept 
help! What kind of people are we getting in the Party these 

I felt as though I had had a blow in the pit of my stom- 


ach, but I got to my feet shakily while an icy rage seized 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mrs. Glazer, 
but one thing is quite clear. There’s no use in our having 
any further relations. I’m going to call Pauline Rogers in 
the morning and tell her so. After all, I’ve only continued 
to contact you because I gave my word to a representative 
of the Party. But now I’ve had enough. I’m not going to take 
any more!” 

She stood up then and came over to me, her eyes plead- 

“Please, Elizabeth, don’t feel that way. I know it’s very 
late and you’re tired. But, believe me, I’m tired too, perhaps 
even more than you are. After all, I’m an old woman now 
and I’ve gotten too cynical. I really didn’t mean to insult 
you.” She looked at me sadly and continued: “Even if you 
don’t want to accept my offer, would you help me? Al- 
though I have traveled extensively in Italy and am now 
engaged in helping the underground over there, I don’t 
know the language. Would you give me lessons? I would be 
glad to pay you a fair price and that certainly would help 
you financially.” 

I felt a pang of remorse. Perhaps, after all, she did mean 
well. Besides, I could do with a little more money, and in 
giving her Italian lessons I was earning it decently. I told 
her I would be very glad to, and we arranged that I would 
come to see her the following Monday at six o’clock. 

I dug my old Italian grammar out of my trunk and 
went over to keep my appointment the next week. To my 
surprise, I found that she had a visitor — a tall, dark, military- 
looking man with an accent that I took to be German. Sud- 
denly I realized that, having been detained at the Relief of- 


fice, I was almost an hour late. Undoubtedly I had barged in 
on a dinner date that she had arranged. With an apology I 
turned to leave, but Mrs. Glazer grasped me by the sleeve. 

“Come on in and have a cocktail with us,” she urged. 
“This is Mr. Smith and he is going to take us to dinner.” 

It was kind of her to be so polite, I thought. The least I 
could do was to have a drink with them and withdraw tact- 
fully. Mr. Smith settled himself on the sofa beside me and 
for the next fifteen minutes he chatted charmingly and casu- 
ally about art in Europe, while Mrs. Glazer sat across the 
room and watched with an odd smile. At the end of that 
time I got to my feet and said firmly that I must go. I had — I 
fell back on the time-worn social “white lie” — an engage- 
ment for dinner. I had the strangest impression, as they 
urged me to stay, that they both looked dismayed. But after 
making an appointment for an Italian lesson for the follow- 
ing week, I went on home. 

The next week I made it a point to arrive exactly on time. 
To my great surprise, there was Mr. Smith again. As I hesi- 
tated in the doorway, wondering what to do, Mrs. Glazer 
waved me in. 

“Don’t tell me that you have another engagement,” she 
said gayly. “Mr. Smith has come especially to take us out to 
dinner. We’ll have cocktails here and then go out and eat.” 

I was tired. After climbing stairs all day, my feet hurt and 
I wanted nothing better than to go home and take my 
shoes off. Besides, I was annoyed; Mrs. Glazer had known 
I was coming precisely at this hour to give her an Italian 
lesson. Why, then, did she have one of her beaux around? 
Then I thought of the lonely dinner ahead of me and wa- 
vered. It would be fun to go out to a really nice restaurant 
and eat with friends. 

[ 53 ] 

It was probably one of the most unpleasant evenings I 
have ever spent. It was not long before I was wishing I had 
followed my first impulse and gone home. Mr. Smith — I 
thought at the time that he had had several cocktails too 
many — was in an amorous mood and kept moving closer 
and closer to me on the sofa, eyeing me fondly. More and 
more embarrassed, I looked helplessly at Mrs. Glazer. She 
certainly should help me out of this uncomfortable situa- 
tion. But she only sat looking amused, as if she were savor- 
ing some secret joke. As I was trying to decide whether or 
not I shouldn’t risk being rude and get up and leave, she 
rose abruptly to her feet. 

“It’s getting late,” she said, with a glance at her watch. 
“Let’s go eat.” 

Our dinner at Barbetta’s- — a nice little Italian restaurant in 
the forties, just off Times Square — was scarcely happier. 
The food was excellent, but Mr. Smith, who I now decided 
was definitely sober, continued to ogle me over the table 
while Mrs. Glazer watched silently. I became more and 
more annoyed; after all, he was most certainly her beau — 
she hadn’t said so, of course, but it was obvious — and it 
was most rude of him to behave that way. Well, I said to 
myself philosophically, he’s just one more middle-aged man 
who likes to make passes at younger women and it’s too bad 
she has to put up with him. 

At the end of the meal, to my great relief, he announced 
that he had an urgent engagement. Calling a taxicab, he 
gave Mrs. Glazer’s address and put us into it. As the door 
slammed shut, Mrs. Glazer leaned forward in her seat and 
looked intently at me. 

“Well, how did you like him?” she asked eagerly. 

[ 54 ] 

I hesitated. After all, she seemed to like him so much, 
and it wouldn’t be polite to criticize him. 

“It was kind of him to take me to dinner,” I said carefully, 
“but it really wasn’t necessary. And I’m sorry I barged into 
your dinner party, but I understood that you’d be free for 
your lesson at that time.” 

“You didn’t barge in,” she said airily. “I brought him up 
especially to meet you. He’s a very wealthy businessman 
and he is going to give you a very good job at a high salary. 
You and he ought to get along together very well. I could 
see that he took to you from the start. Now you can leave 
your Home Relief job and not feel that you are accepting 

I shook my head. The idea of working with Mr. Smith 
definitely didn’t appeal to me. Aside from my disgust at his 
behavior there was a hard, steely quality about the man that 
repelled me. The less I saw of Mr. Smith the happier I would 
be. I turned decisively to Mrs. Glazer. 

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to stay where I am. It’s not such 
a bad job after all. Besides, we are all going to be put on the 
Civil Service rolls. That will give us some permanency and 
perhaps a raise in pay.” 

She looked amused. “But that won’t come for some time 
yet. I know. I read about it in the papers.” 

“Oh yes, it will,” I said firmly. “Very shortly we’re all 
going down to meet the examiner and have our finger- 
prints taken. That means that it won’t be long now.” 

“You can’t do that!” she said, her face turning white. “If 
you have your fingerprints taken you will be no further use 
to the revolutionary movement. You must leave immedi- 

[ 55 ] 

None of this made any sense to me. What did fingerprints 
have to do with the Communist movement? Then, looking 
at the expression on her face, I was frightened. I was sure by 
now that she wasn’t crazy — in fact, she was alarmingly 
sane. And if that was so, then something strange was going 
on. Her ugly talk about the underground movement in 
Europe; her attempt to give me money and, when I refused 
that, to find me a job with an unpleasant man; her odd talk 
about fingerprints — what did it all mean? I didn’t know, but 
I was quite sure something was wrong. She didn’t behave 
the way a Communist should. Well, I wasn’t going to stick 
around any longer. I would say goodbye once and for all 
and let Pauline Rogers know about the situation. 

“Mrs. Glazer,” I said firmly, “I haven’t the least idea 
what you are up to, but as far as I’m concerned, I don’t want 
to. I am going back to the Home Relief where I belong and 
you will have to find someone else to give you Italian les- 

By now the cab had reached her home. As she paid the 
driver, I got out, said goodbye, and started off for home, 
ignoring her protests. The next day I telephoned Pauline 
but I couldn’t reach her. All right, I said to myself, I’ll have 
to handle this my own way, since there is no one else I can 
ask for advice. I’ll never see Mrs. Glazer again, I decided. If 
she calls, I won’t answer the phone. 

For over a month Mrs. Glazer continued to ring me up 
and I persistently refused to go to the phone. Finally, one 
night, I answered a knock at the door to find her standing 
there, looking at me pleadingly. I had guests in my apart- 
ment, so I closed the door and went out into the corridor. 

“What do you want?” I demanded. 


“Why don’t you reconsider?” she said. “You’re really 
passing up a very good opportunity.” 

“There’s nothing to reconsider,” I said tersely. “I’m going 
to stay in the Home Relief Bureau.” Then I thought of a 
clinching argument that ought to take her off my neck for 
good and all. “I’d be no use to you anyway, at least accord- 
ing to what you said. I’ve already had my fingerprints 

She stared at me and there was hate in her eyes. 

“You fool! Why didn’t you have sense enough to take 
my advice?” 

“I have guests waiting,” I said, opening the door to my 
apartment. “Goodnight, Mrs. Glazer, and goodbye!” 

[ 57 ] 


I forgot about this episode in the busy rush of my life at 
the Relief Bureau. With all the activities in which I was then 
involved, I felt that I was in the midst of a three-ring circus. 
As the weeks rolled on, I grew more and more tired and by 
the summer I was so weary that it was an effort to climb 
even a flight of stairs. One day, for the first time in my life, 
I fainted dead away, and I decided I would have to see a doc- 
tor. The examination showed I was completely tired out 

“How did you ever manage to get so run down?” the 
doctor asked, looking at me thoughtfully. “What do you do 
for a living?” When I told him, with deletions, he nodded 
comprehendingly. “No wonder. Well, you’ll have to take 
a vacation and then find yourself a more peaceful occupa- 

That was more easily said than done, I thought. I wouldn’t 
be in the Home Relief Bureau if I had been able to find any- 
thing else. Perhaps, if I got a leave of absence, I could get 
back in shape and resume my job. I applied for the leave, but 
as usual it bogged down in red tape. While I was waiting for 
it to come through, I went to visit some friends one night 
and collapsed. It was quite clear now that I was in no shape 
to continue. Reluctantly I wrote to the Home Relief people 
and resigned. 

When I got back on my feet again, I decided that now 
that I had background in the field the most sensible thing 
to do was to return to Columbia University and spent a 
year getting my master’s degree in sociology. This decision 
stemmed not only from the practical interest I had in the 
subject but from the fact that, as the result of a job-hunting 
trip to Washington, D.C., the previous winter, I had dis- 
covered there were numerous government jobs available if 
only one had studied sociology. I had a little money left. 
By hoarding it carefully and taking odd typing and trans- 
lating jobs, I could support myself for a semester. After 
that, perhaps something else would turn up. 

In the meantime, I had been transferred back to the Com- 
munist Party unit in Columbia University. I found it much 
the same as when I had left, except that it was in the throes 
of trouble with Comrade Land, one of the old stand-bys in 
the Party, who was refusing to accept Party discipline 
and carry out the tasks given him. 

I knew Comrade Land fairly well. All of us newcomers, 
who knew so little about Communism and were so eager to 
learn, had looked up to Land and respected him, thinking 
him the model of what a good Communist should be. It 
came as a great shock to discover that expulsion proceedings 
were being brought against him, and I was unable to un- 
derstand it. His attitude left me even more puzzled, since he 
seemed to be making no serious attempt to disprove the 
charges against him — in fact, he appeared like a man who 
was sleepwalking. 

Because it was my first experience with the application of 
Communist discipline, the memory remains vividly in my 
mind. The small top-story room where the trial was held 
overflowed with people. Not only all the members of the 

[ 59 ] 

Columbia unit were there but also representatives from the 
section, the district, the Central Committee, and a few un- 
identified people. Most of the outsiders, I didn’t know. I did, 
however, recognize Louis Sass, the short, dark, energetic 
Hungarian who was the organizer for the Harlem section. 
And someone pointed out V. J. Jerome, a pale, cold-look- 
ing individual with a face like a sleepy fish. He was then the 
Party’s authority on theoretical problems, although some 
years previously he had been a member of the Columbia 

It was eight o’clock, we settled ourselves, and the chair- 
man rapped for order. As the hours ticked by, the charges 
against Comrade Land were stated. Not only had he refused 
to accept the directives of the unit and to carry them out 
but he had been guilty of insulting the leadership of the 
Party — he had called Comrade Sass an “idiot” and had re- 
marked, over and over again, that Comrade Jerome was a 
“numbskull.” The question of what should be done with 
Comrade Land was thrown open to the floor. 

For the next few hours, comrade after comrade got up 
to give his views. Some defended Land loyally, some at 
tacked him. My head began to ache with the noise and the 
smoke. Then Land got to his feet to answer the charges. He 
spoke slowly and haltingly, seeming to grope for words, 
and gave the impression that he cared very little about 
what happened to him. It was as if a shell of a man stood 
there. I found myself gripping the sides of my chair, and 
there was a hard knot in my throat. 

It was almost four o’clock in the morning when the mat- 
ter was finally put to a vote. As I had expected, the majority 
decision was that Land should be expelled. Then Comrade 
Jerome rose slowly to his feet. 


“Comrades,” he said slowly, and I found myself admiring 
the man, “I have known Comrade Land for a long time. 
He’s basically a good person and a Communist with a long 
record of service. I don’t think that he should be expelled 
summarily from the Party but should be given a chance 
to rehabilitate himself. I propose that he be put on a six- 
months’ probationary period. If, during that period, he 
shows that he can carry out his duties, he should be allowed 
to return to membership.” 

As he sat down, a vote was taken. It was unanimously de- 
cided that Comrade Jerome’s suggestion should be adopted 
— Land should be given a chance to show what he could 

I walked wearily home through the deserted streets of 
Harlem. Tired as I was, I felt that the evening had not been 
wasted. I had now had a chance to see the Party’s discipli- 
nary apparatus in action. More than I realized at the time, I 
had been tremendously impressed by what I had seen. After 
all, Land had incontrovertibly made a very poor showing, 
yet the Party had been understanding in its treatment of 
him. How many people in the outside world would give a 
man another chance, especially when he had failed so often? 

For the next two months, I lost track of Land. Then, one 
day, to my great surprise I saw him having lunch with Juliet 
Glazer in a Japanese restaurant on West 1 18th Street. I was 
with Lee Fuhr and two other fellow comrades from the 
Columbia unit, and I hoped fervently that I wouldn’t be 
seen. Yet, somehow, I couldn’t take my gaze from them. I 
was puzzled by the fact that Land and Juliet not only knew 
each other but were chatting in such friendly fashion. I came 
to with a start to realize that Lee was also looking in the 
same direction. 


“What’s he doing with her?” she muttered. 

“What do you mean?” I asked sharply. 

She looked at me, then at the two other comrades, and 
shrugged her shoulders. 

“Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this, but — well, frankly, it 
worries me. I know that woman and she’s no good.” She 
paused for a moment and I saw an odd look come into the 
faces of the other two comrades. “A few months ago I was 
introduced to her by Land. He said she was a high-up com- 
rade and needed my assistance. But she never told me what 
she wanted me to do. She merely said she would like to 
finance my nursing training — she had plenty of money — 
so that one day I would be useful to the Communist move- 
ment. I was all set to accept her offer — after all, I’ve had 
a pretty hard struggle to earn my living — when I suddenly 
had the uncanny feeling that I shouldn’t do it. She was much 
too eager.” She looked at us thoughtfully, then frowned 
and went on: “No, frankly, that’s not the real reason. It’s 
just that, as a nurse, I know all the queer quirks of human 
nature. She appeared much too fond of me, to the point 
where I felt embarrassed. You know, I’m convinced she’s a 
‘homo.’ And I don’t want to be mixed up in anything like 

The little red-headed comrade on the other side of me 
stared intently at the tablecloth. 

“I know her too, Lee, only I’ve never mentioned the fact. 
The reason I didn’t was that when Land introduced me to 
her, he stressed the fact that I should say nothing to any- 
body. But I’ve been worried too. She didn’t seem to be a 
genuine person. She offered to pay my way through Teach- 
ers’ College for the next two years and then find me a job. 


I didn’t accept because I felt there was something very 
odd about her.” 

I started to tell them about my experiences with Mrs. 
Glazer, but then I looked across the table and saw the 
expression on Margaret Hinckley’s face. Good heavens, I 
thought, does Meg know Juliet, too? My mind suddenly 
went back to the spring of 1933 when I had first met her 
future husband, William C. Hinckley, who was then limp- 
ing around the corridors of International House with a 
badly sprained ankle. He had told us he was going to marry 
Margaret Cummings, one of the members of Boston’s Four 
Hundred, the following year. I had completely forgotten 
about Bill during the ensuing year when I had gone to Italy. 

I did not run into Bill Hinckley again till the spring of 
1935. By that time, they had been married and Meg was 
a member of the Columbia unit. Not long after she joined, 
she had brought me Bill’s application card and I had signed 
as co-sponsor for him. Since he was then the executive sec- 
retary of the American Youth Congress (in actual fact, the 
ruling officer of the organization), it seemed wise for him 
to disconnect himself from the Columbia unit. After a cou- 
ple of meetings he was transferred over to Gilbert Green, 
at that time an official in the Young Communist League and 
later one of the eleven Communists convicted after the 
marathon trial before Judge Harold R. Medina for mem- 
bership in an organization advocating overthrow of the 
American government. Meg, however, had remained with 
the Columbia unit. Now she was talking, as if the words 
were being forced out of her. 

“Lee,” she said desperately, “I don’t like this situation. I 
was introduced to that woman over there by Land just after 


I joined the Party. I liked her at first. She came over to our 
house and met Bill and we all got along very nicely. She 
seemed to want us to help her in some project that she 
was engaged in. But she was never very definite about it. 
Then she started making passes at my husband and neither 
he nor I liked it. We decided that something very peculiar 
was going on. From then on, we never answered the tele- 
phone if we knew she was calling, and when she came to 
our home, our maid told her we were out. But now I’m up- 
set. What is she doing lunching with Land?” 

All three were staring at each other. I had, so far, said 
nothing. Then I told them about my experiences with Mrs. 
Glazer and we sat looking at each other thoughtfully. Meg 
was the first to speak. 

“I think there’s something very wrong about that 
woman,” she said seriously. “Certainly she doesn’t act like 
a Communist. She might be a counterrevolutionary sent 
into our ranks to corrupt the comrades. We ought to inves- 
tigate her.” 

We all agreed, but somehow with the passing months, 
especially since Mrs. Glazer seemed to have disappeared 
from the Columbia campus, we forgot our resolution. 
Meanwhile I was having my own difficulties. My money 
had run out, there were no jobs of any kind available, and 
reluctantly I went on Home Relief, hoping to get on one of 
the W.P.A. projects. But by then the lists were closed. So, 
wearily I resigned myself to long days of walking around 
New York City, applying for any and every job I could 
think of. 

Finally, in the spring of 1936 I found work typing manu- 
scripts; when that ended, I had a succession of odd jobs — 
translating, tutoring, typing. None of them paid well, but 


I managed to eke out an existence. In my spare time I was 
taking a course in education at Teachers’ College — one 
that I had paid for the previous spring but which, due to 
my heavy schedule at the Home Relief Bureau, I had had to 
postpone; this, at least, kept me in touch with the academic 
world. I was still hoping that the several thousand dollars 
awarded me by an English court for injuries in a bus acci- 
dent in 1930 would soon come through; with that in my 
pocket, I could afford to take a year off, get a degree in soci- 
ology, and return to the teaching field. 

During the academic year of 1935-1936, I continued to 
function as a member of the Columbia University unit. My 
Communist duties kept me so busy that I had, luckily, no 
time to brood about my own misfortunes. I did, indeed, 
lead a hectic life. Looking back on it now, I wonder just 
where I found the time and energy to accomplish all I did. 
To begin with, my “inner-Party” duties were extremely 
heavy: I was financial secretary of the unit — which meant 
that I had to collect all the dues and spend long hours strug- 
gling with the Party’s complicated bookkeeping system; 
moreover, such a position carried with it the responsibility 
of attending a weekly Bureau meeting, in addition to the 
unit meeting, plus the added duty of trotting up to Finnish 
Hall every Wednesday evening to hand in the money and 
attend a section finance meeting. Then, too, in the spring 
of 1936 I was made agit-prop for the unit — probably be- 
cause no one else found they had the time; this meant that 
I had to read all the current Party literature and prepare 
reports for the unit, in addition to attending the weekly 
section agit-props’ meeting. 

By the summer of 1936 1 found that I was more and more 
becoming a Communist in spirit as well as in name. In the 


intervening period my convictions had been enormously 
strengthened. Perhaps it was because all the hectic activity 
incidental to the Party dulled my senses to the point where 
I was no longer able to look at the Communist Party ob- 
jectively. To a certain extent, this was true. When a person 
lives on the ragged edge of existence, always overworked, 
always lacking proper sleep, he tends to lose perspective 
and keeps working automatically, like a squirrel in a cage, 
without questioning why he is going in circles. He has no 
time nor energy to sit down and view the problem dispas- 
sionately from a safe distance. 

But more important was the influence of the Party’s psy- 
chological devices, one of the most powerful of which was 
the educational program. It consisted in so saturating the 
new member with Party-slanted literature and in so in- 
sulating him from any outside sources of information, 
that he ended by accepting the Communist line as the only 
correct one. So subtly and naturally was this conditioning 
carried out that often the convert didn’t realize he hadn’t 
done his own thinking. Instead, he was convinced that he 
had arrived at his own conclusions unaided. 

Like most of the new members, I had approached the 
Party humbly, realizing I knew very little about it and be- 
ing vastly eager to learn. I was told that I had a long way to 
go and that I must study incessantly in order to get a firm 
foundation. After all, the older comrades pointed out to me, 
I couldn’t very well be a Communist without knowing in 
detail just what I stood for. It was all very well to know the 
general program, but that wasn’t enough. I must be well 
enough informed to be able to answer any questions put to 
me by outsiders, whether they pertained to the Communist 
position on China or the Party’s stand on unemployment. 

[ 66 ] 

This made eminent sense to me and I followed their in- 
structions faithfully, reading whenever I had a spare mo- 
ment. Every day I went carefully through the Daily Worker 
from cover to cover. Every week I swallowed a number of 
current Communist pamphlets, and if I had any extra time 
I tackled some of the basic literature. This heavy schedule, 
standard for all Communists, left me with no time to do any 
outside reading. I could never seem to find a moment even 
to glance at the New York Times, let alone any of the cur- 
rent magazines, and I had to abandon any thought of get- 
ting around to non-Communist books. 

In the winter of 1935-1936, too, I started going down to 
the Communist Workers’ School, then located on the sec- 
ond floor of 50 East 13 th Street — a rickety rabbit warren 
that housed the Party’s national and district headquarters, 
the Communist newspapers, and the Workers’ Bookshop. 
Here I took courses in Marxian political economy and strug- 
gled to learn the philosophical and economic bases of Com- 
munist theory. Actually, the whole concept of Marxism- 
Leninism (the technical name for Communism) is a highly 
complicated one and I found myself floundering hopelessly 
in “dialectical materialism,” “economic determinism,” and 
the “iron law of wages.” I wished desperately that instead 
of concentrating on languages in college, I had enlarged my 
philosophic background and taken at least one course in 
economics. Certainly, I thought, I would understand more 
of what was going on. 

The school itself impressed me very much, however, de- 
spite its unprepossessing appearance. The atmosphere in 
the classrooms was casual and informal and there was none 
of the rigidity that I had found in other educational insti- 
tutions. The teachers, too, were friendly and helpful and 


they seemed to regard their classes less as a group to be lec- 
tured at than as a group to discuss things with. The students 
themselves seemed alive and eager to learn. Although, un- 
doubtedly, most of them had worked hard all day and were 
very tired, none of them slumbered in their seats. In fact, 
they sat alertly on the edge of their chairs, listening 
intently and firing questions at the lecturer. 

At first I sat quietly in my seat, feeling incredibly ig- 
norant in the midst of all this knowledge. But by the time 
the course was finished, I no longer had any questions. I 
had been so thoroughly convinced by the combined argu- 
ments of the class and the teacher that I no longer had 
any doubt that the Marxist-Leninist interpretation of the 
world’s history was correct. 

This combination of educational techniques on the part 
of the Party was slowly and inexorably having its ef- 
fect on me. But there were other devices that supplemented 
it. In joining the Communists I had cut myself off from all 
but a very few outside friends. I was to find that more and 
more my social life centered in the Party. This partly re- 
sulted from the fact that my fellow comrades and I were 
thrown together so much in the work we were doing. We 
were continually having meetings and planning programs. 
Further, our erratic schedule made it all but impossible to 
keep outside engagements, since some emergency might 
arise and we would have to break them, inventing a plausi- 
ble excuse that wouldn’t betray our Communist affiliation. 
In addition, each Communist unit gave a party either 
weekly or biweekly in one of the members’ homes for the 
dual purpose of raising money and talking to potential re- 
cruits. This more or less canceled out any other social dates. 
Yet, perhaps more than all this, was the feeling that we had 

[ 68 ] 

a common bond, that because we felt the same way about 
life we were more at ease in our own company than any- 
where else. Even when we had free time and a choice of 
places to go to, we tended to congregate at each other’s 

The psychological effect of this close inner life on a new 
member was, of course, terrific; he came to feel that his 
only real friends were in the Party and that the outside 
world had very little relevance in his scheme of affairs. Yet 
this clever technique on the part of the Communist Party 
did not exhaust its store of devices. There was, even more 
effectively, the strong pressure of its rigid discipline, which 
slowly but surely tempered the new member into a steeled 

Before I joined the Communist Party, I had been a 
strongly individualistic person: I didn’t want anyone to do 
my thinking for me, nor did I want to lead a “regimented” 
life. Perhaps this attitude came down to me from my non- 
conformist forebears; perhaps it was a wholly natural re- 
action to an overly stern, old-fashioned New England 
upbringing. What had changed my point of view was the 
realization that, in order to improve the conditions of the 
world and build a new society, it would be necessary to 
have a strong organization with rules and regulations to 
which its members would have to adhere. It meant, I knew, 
that as an individual I would have to sacrifice certain rights 
and perhaps put up with many inconveniences but, in view 
of the importance of the goal to be attained, I was sure that 
it was worthwhile. After all, I decided, this is a step that I 
am taking voluntarily. No one is forcing me into it. 

The Communist Party’s discipline, in fact, was largely 
successful because it appealed to the responsibility of the 


individual himself and to his desire for the approval of his 
fellow comrades. I was told that each Communist should 
indulge in “Bolshevik self-criticism” — that is, he should 
be able to view his own actions impersonally and decide 
whether he had behaved rightly or wrongly, and he should 
be able to admit his mistakes without rationalizing. More- 
over, his fellow comrades also sat in judgment on him. If, 
in their opinion, he had erred, he was publicly criticized 
at his unit meeting — an experience that was, to say the 
least, humiliating. Usually, once was enough to cure a com- 
rade who had been slipshod in his duties or failed to pay 
his dues on time. After hearing himself denounced as a bad 
Communist and a disgrace to the movement, he generally 
reformed in a hurry. 

I was told, too, that as a Communist I was responsible not 
only for my own actions but for those of my fellow com- 
rades, since it was important to the movement that the 
wrong sort of people didn’t get into our ranks. That meant 
if I knew Comrade W didn’t pay his dues or attend meet- 
ings, if he got drunk frequently in public and set a poor ex- 
ample of what a Communist should be like, I should report 
that fact to the Bureau so that they could call him in and 
give him a talking-to. At first I disliked this idea — after all, 
talebearing is not a pleasant thing. Then I began to accept 
it as a necessary part of the work of the organization. Un- 
doubtedly, it was important that we Communists give a 
good account of ourselves to the outside world. If one of 
us slipped up, he was bringing discredit on the whole Party 
and it was the duty of the organization to do something 
about it. Thus I learnt some should suffer for the good of 

Although I was unaware of it at the time, we were also 


being imperceptibly schooled in the practice of conspira- 
torial methods, although in those early days they were 
probably no more complicated than those used by the av- 
erage secret society. In fact, that is probably why most of 
us failed to see the deadly implications of the tactics we 
were learning. They seemed little more than the shenani- 
gans of a fraternity or sorority group. We did, of course, 
take a phoney name when we joined the Party, but none of 
us, I think, took this very seriously. It was a custom and we 
conformed to it. Moreover, it offered us a chance to escape 
from the name that had been foisted upon us at birth and to 
select one that possibly had more appeal. A good many peo- 
ple took names they had always wanted to have; others 
took the names of heroes they admired, as I did; others went 
under the pseudonyms of their pet enemies: at that time 
Nicholas Murray Butler was president of Columbia Uni- 
versity and cordially disliked by the left-wingers — conse- 
quently we had a number of Comrade Nicholas Butlers. 
One Chinese student, just to confuse matters thoroughly, 
became “Comrade Levine.” 

If we joined other Communist organizations, we could, 
if we chose, take other pseudonyms, and a good many of us 
did. Why, I can’t at the moment recall, except probably be- 
cause it seemed to be the thing to do. The only difficulty 
with acquiring many names was that it was not easy to re- 
member which one to use where, and this led to embarrass- 
ing moments — sometimes hilarious ones. 

I remember I took an alias for my class at the Workers’ 
School, filled out my application blank, and thought noth- 
ing more of the matter. The first night I was late for school; 
the teacher had already begun to talk and, embarrassed, I 
tiptoed up to the one vacant seat in the front row. The roll 


had evidently been called, for the professor stopped, con- 
sulted his list, and looked down at me. 

“What’s your name, Comrade?” he asked. 

In the excitement, I completely forgot what name I had 

“I don’t know, Comrade professor,” I stammered. 

The teacher suppressed a smile and a roar of laughter 
shook the classroom. It was sympathetic laughter, I real- 
ized with relief. 

We were, I am afraid, very poor in undercover tactics in 
those days. Although we tried to keep our identities and 
meetings secret, I’m sure that anyone who really wanted to 
find out could have done so. Certainly, the Hearst reporters 
who were then investigating Communism on the Columbia 
campus had us pretty well spotted — even to knowing what 
drugstores we hung out in. But that, of course, was in the 
semiopen days of the Party and most of us were very new, 
inexperienced members. 

In the late spring of 1936, while riding down Broadway 
on a trolley car, I saw Juliet Glazer again. She was two 
seats ahead of me, seemingly immersed in thought. I remem- 
bered our resolution to investigate her and I moved over 
beside her. 

“Hello, Mrs. Glazer,” I said cheerfully. “It’s been so long 
since I’ve seen you. You know. I’ve been wanting to run 
into you for a long time to tell you that you were perfectly 
correct. I should have left the Relief Bureau and taken you 
up on your offer. But now, of course, it’s too late.” 

Her eyes grew wary, then she smiled cordially and said 
in her friendliest manner: 

“I am glad to see you again. Why don’t you visit me 


sometime? In fact, come for tea Wednesday next week; I 
live at the same address, you know.” 

She had taken the bait! Now I had to notify Meg so that 
we could go up and tell the section authorities about the 
situation. She wasn’t home, however, so I went on up by 
myself and talked to Comrade Sass. His offhand opinion 
was that she didn’t sound like a genuine Communist. How- 
ever, he said he would check with the district and let me 
know. When I returned a couple of days later, he shook his 

“No one down there knows anything about her. She’s 
obviously a phoney sent in by the counterrevolutionaries 
to corrupt our people. She must be exposed. Keep that date 
with her and take a comrade from the section along. Com- 
rade C will do. He looks like a college boy and won’t arouse 
suspicion. Let him do all the talking and just stay in the 

The following Wednesday, promptly at tea time, Com- 
rade C — a long, lean, scholarly-looking man with glasses — 
and I arrived at Mrs. Glazer’s place. I rang the bell and we 
slowly climbed the carpeted stairs. As usual, she was stand- 
ing in the doorway, her face showing surprise at the addi- 
tion of Comrade C. But then she relaxed. Undoubtedly, 
looking back on it now, she thought I had brought her a po- 
tential contact from the Columbia unit. As we stood in the 
middle of the living room, I started to introduce my com- 
panion, but Comrade C gestured me aside. 

“Mrs. Glazer,” he said firmly, “I am a representative of 
the Harlem section of the Communist Party. You have 
been posing as a comrade doing undercover work and try- 
ing to involve several of our people. Just who are you and 
what is your game?” 

[ 73 ] 

Her face went chalk white and the rouge stood out in 
blobs. I don’t think I have ever seen such naked terror in 
anyone’s eyes in my life. She moistened her lips, tried to 
speak, then caught on to the back of the chair behind her 
for support. What is she so frightened of, I wondered. 
She acts as if we were going to kill her. As she struggled to 
speak, I looked past her and saw that the glass doors to the 
small inner room were closed, but outlined clearly against 
the thin curtains was the figure of a man — standing motion- 
less. For no reason that I can put my finger on, I felt an icy 
chill sweep over me and I wanted to get out of that room 
fast and run as far away as possible. I caught myself ab- 
ruptly and moved closer to Comrade C. Mrs. Glazer had by 
now found her voice. 

“You’re crazy,” she croaked. “I have nothing to do with 
the Communist Party. I never have. I don’t know what 
you’re talking about. I’m just a research worker at Colum- 
bia University.” 

“Come off that,” Comrade C said, staring at her steadily. 
“I know what you’ve been doing. Well, in the future, stay 
away from our people.” 

He put on his hat and turned to leave; Mrs. Glazer, real- 
izing that I was edging toward the door, turned on me sav- 

“You stay right here. I have a few things to say to you!” 

I looked at Comrade C and saw that he was badly fright- 
ened, too. With one motion he pushed me out the door, 
stepped out after me, and slammed it shut. 

“Let’s get out of here fast,” he muttered. “I don’t like the 
smell of that place.” 

Down the stairs we fled, so fast that we tripped over each 
other and fell in a heap at the bottom. Picking ourselves 

[ 74 ] 

up, we literally ran for a block until we reached Broad- 
way. There we found a telephone and called Comrade Sass, 
who had been waiting for our call. 

“She’s definitely a counterrevolutionary and a dangerous 
one,” said Sass, when he heard our story. “I’ll report it to 

I thought, then, that I had seen the last of Mrs. Glazer but 
to my horror I found that I hadn’t. Two nights later, when 
I was at dinner, I answered a knock at the door to find her 
standing in the hallway, accompanied by Pauline Rogers. 
I was about to slam the door in her face. Then I realized 
that with three other people in the apartment I didn’t need 
to be afraid. 

“I want to talk to you,” she said curtly. 

Silently, I led them through the living room and into my 
bedroom. Closing the door, I turned to a Mrs. Glazer whose 
face was distorted by hate and rage. 

“I’ve brought Pauline Rogers here to guarantee my bona 
fides,” she said. Then a cold menace came into her voice: 
“And now, my petty meddler, I’m going to tell you a few 

She launched into a vituperative diatribe, which I was too 
stunned to take in properly, while Pauline sat silently by. 
I remember only that, interspersed with everything else, 
she called me a “Trotskyite,” a “counterrevolutionary,” an 
“enemy of the working class” — words that I had heard in 
the Party before and knew to be deadly insults, without 
ever quite knowing their meaning. At the end, she looked 
at me with a concentrated fury that left me weak and shak- 

“Just remember one thing,” she said, and I have never 
forgotten her words, “if ever you meddle in my affairs 

[ 75 ] 

again, I’ll see that you’re taken care of. You’ll be put six 
feet under and you won’t come back to do any more talk- 

Why I didn’t keel over in a faint at this point I don’t 
know. Perhaps because all my life I’d been accustomed to 
going calmly through emergencies and then collapsing later, 
when all the excitement was over. I got to my feet and 
found, to my great surprise, that I could still stand. Al- 
though my voice quavered, I could still control it. 

“Look here, Mrs. Glazer, I don’t know who you are or 
what you are up to, but I do know you aren’t any Commu- 
nist. No one knows you in the section or the district. I’ve 
checked on that. Whether you’re dangerous or just plain 
crazy, I don’t know. But I do know that I’m not going to 
take any more of this nonsense from you.” I threw the door 
wide open. “Get out, Mrs. Glazer, and don’t you ever come 
back again!” 

She looked at me as if a mouse had suddenly risen up and 
defied her. Without a word, she stalked out the door, fol- 
lowed by Pauline Rogers. I walked slowly back into the 
living room. Then my knees buckled and I sat down on the 
nearest chair. 

“What’s the matter?” one of my fellow comrades asked 
anxiously. “You’re white as a ghost and you’re trembling.” 

“I don’t know,” I said, and my hands were shaking so that 
I couldn’t light my cigarette, “but that’s the woman I’ve 
been telling you about — the counterrevolutionary that we 
investigated. She talked wildly — said she was the power 
behind the Communist Party — that she could make or 
break me or all the rest of us. Then she ended up by threat- 
ening my life!” 

We looked at each other thoughtfully; then Cy snubbed 
out his cigarette and spoke. 

“She’s probably not all there in the head,” he said sooth- 
ingly. “No normal person talks that way. Anyway, if she’s 
really dangerous, we’ll all be around to protect you.” 

I knew very well that he didn’t believe what he was say- 
ing nor did the rest, yet there really was no sense in worry- 
ing about the matter. There was nothing we could do. 
Whoever she is, I thought hopefully, she wouldn’t dare do 
anything to me. After all, I have friends around me. 

I probably would have slept less soundly that night if I 
had had any inkling of who Mrs. Glazer really was. Indeed, 
if I had known that she was a member of the dreaded Rus- 
sian Secret Police and if, in addition, I had known enough 
about that organization to know that they ruthlessly dis- 
posed of anyone who threatened their safety, I would prob- 
ably have sat up all night, listening tensely for every squeak 
in the floor boards. As it was, this was something that I only 
learned much later on. And so I went peacefully to bed that 
night and slept. 


In about mid-November 1936 I bumped into the girl who 
had taken Pauline Rogers’s place as organizational secre- 
tary of the American League Against War and Fascism. I 
had seen her several times before, but only once since the 
city office had been moved from Fourth Avenue to a new 
location on the north side of Union Square. She greeted me 
gayly and asked what I was doing. When I told her I hadn’t 
as yet found a permanent and lucrative position, her eyes 
narrowed thoughtfully. 

“Perhaps I can find you something,” she said. “I have a 
friend — a very wealthy businessman from Lithuania — who 
badly needs a secretary. He wants a person who can take 
shorthand and type properly and who can correct his Eng- 
lish, which is still not perfect. You would be the ideal per- 
son.” She paused for a moment and then went on. “He’s an 
old Communist and I have known him for a long time. But 
remember, you must never mention this matter to anyone. 
He doesn’t want his political sympathies known in this 

I hesitated a moment — this was reminiscent of my ill- 
fated introduction to Mrs. Glazer. Then I thought to my- 
self that this was quite different — a bona-fide offer of a 
job. I said that I would be glad to meet her friend. His name, 



she said, was Joseph Eckhart, and she arranged that I come 
the following afternoon to a restaurant on Fourth Avenue. 

Mr. Eckhart turned out to be a tall, broad-shouldered 
man with receding hair and a pair of bright-green eyes un- 
der heavy eyebrows. He was, I judged, a man somewhere 
in his fifties, and his accent, which was not too noticeable, 
seemed to be a cross between Russian and German. We 
chatted for a little while and he told me he was in the ex- 
port business but that things weren’t as yet set up com- 

About ten days later I met him again. This time he in- 
formed me that he had been called “home” and didn’t know 
whether or not he would return to the United States. 
Would I give him a permanent address where he could reach 
me if he did come back? Something about the whole per- 
formance vaguely puzzled me. Although he strenuously 
insisted that he was only a “businessman” — and indeed a 
good many things about him confirmed that impression — 
some cryptic remarks made me wonder whether or not he 
didn’t have some connection with the Communist Interna- 
tional. I had, so I thought, never met one of its representa- 
tives before, although I had been told there were such peo- 
ple. Nor did I have more than the slightest notion of what 
their activities were, although I was under the impression 
that they acted as liaison men between the different Com- 
munist parties of the world. At any rate, I had by now been 
sufficiently trained as a Communist to ask no questions. 
I politely wished him bon voyage. 

I continued on with my odd jobs and my Communist 
work in Harlem until the early spring of 1937, when I got 
a two-months’ temporary position with Consumers’ Union. 
This outfit had been set up not too long before by the 

[ 79 ] 

striking left-wing employees of the old Consumers’ Re- 
search to give consumers information on standard prod- 

While I was with Consumers’ Union, I was startled one 
night to receive a telephone call from Joseph Eckhart; he 
was back in the country and wanted to see me. Over dinner 
at Longchamps he finally told me that he was a representa- 
tive of the international Communist movement, that he had 
been to Moscow, and that now he had returned on official 

“Then you’re not just a businessman,” I said. 

“Oh, yes, I am,” he smiled, sardonically. “I’m a purchas- 
ing agent in the airplane field. And that ties in with my 
Communist work. I’ve been sent over especially to buy 
American planes and ship them to the Spanish Loyalists via 

The Spanish Civil War had been going on for some time. 
Fellow comrades of mine had gone over there to fight for 
the Madrid government — in fact my old friend Lee Fuhr 
had sailed with the first medical contingent. I myself hadn’t 
been too involved, although I had done some work for left- 
wing committees that had been set up to aid Republican 
Spain. Yet, like all Communists, I was intensely interested 
in the Loyalist cause. But I didn’t see where I fitted into the 
picture and I said so. 

“I don’t know yet,” he said slowly. “Things are in a 
state of flux right now, but I may need you as a secretary 
at any time. I’ll keep in touch with you.” 

Then I remembered that, having just returned from Mos- 
cow, he must have some inside news about the Trotskyite 
trials which were then going on. They were discussed con- 
tinually in the Party during that period. By now, I had 


learned that Trotskyites were dangerous, unscrupulous ter- 
rorists who hated the Communists bitterly and were out to 
smash them in every land. They were an organization of 
men who had rallied around Leon Trotsky, the Russian ex- 
Revolutionary who had been exiled from the Soviet Union. 
I had, at that time, never met any Trotskyites personally. I 
just knew, from what I had been told in the Party, that 
they were no-good people and my enemies. 

The so-called “Trotskyite” trials, of course, concerned 
a group of old Bolsheviks — a great number of them Army 
men — who were accused of having become Trotskyites and 
of working with the Nazis to commit acts of sabotage and 
espionage against the Soviet Union. Outside Party ranks 
there was serious doubt that these men were guilty. In fact, 
a good many people thought, with justification, that this 
was just a frame-up. Yet, as far as I remember, none of us 
Communists ever questioned the charge that these men 
were traitors and criminals. Perhaps the only question that 
ever occurred to us on the subject was why these steeled 
old Bolsheviks had done such a terrible thing. I turned to 
Eckhart and asked him. For a moment there was a look of 
pain on his face and then it became inscrutable. 

“I don’t want to talk about it.” 

“But why?” I demanded. 

“Because I’m an old Red soldier myself. I was an officer 
in the Civil War and I knew many of these people. You’ve 
been reading things in books and you don’t know what it 
was really like.” 

I thought then that I understood his emotion. It must be 
dreadful to feel that old friends of yours had behaved in 
such an abominable way. Apologetically, I changed the sub- 

For the rest of the spring I continued to have dinner with 
Eckhart occasionally, but when, by June, he was still not 
sure about my employment, I told him I was going to take 
a position as athletic counselor in the R. H. Macy camp. 
That, he said, would be all right; he would keep in touch 
with me. 

In the fall, when I returned to New York, I saw Eckhart 
again. He told me that because of the passage of the Neutral- 
ity Act he would be unable, he thought, to do anything 
further about the purchase of airplanes for Spain. He 
thought that meant he would be ordered back to Moscow 
shortly. However, he would keep in touch with me just in 
case he did need my services. He seemed thinner and har- 
assed looking and, although he was as charming and cour- 
teous as ever, his mind seemed to be on something else. 
Knowing that he suffered from frequent and very bad at- 
tacks of migraine, I asked him if he was feeling well. 

“Oh, Fm all right physically,” he said savagely, “but I’m 
worried about the people over there. What are they going 
to do with me? Why don’t I get any word? Oh, never mind! 
You wouldn’t know what I’m talking about.” 

One night at table he suddenly put down his water glass 
and stared across at me. 

“If I go back ‘home/ ” he said slowly, “I’ll never come 
back here. I’ll be dead in a year.” 

I knew that in addition to his constant migraine he had a 
bad gall bladder and sundry other bad internal troubles. 

“Don’t be silly, Joe,” I said soothingly. “You aren’t going 
to die in a year. Your insides will hold out longer than that. 
And, besides, don’t worry about going back to Moscow. 
They undoubtedly have as good doctors there as here.” 


He gave me a strange look, then he nodded absently. 
“Yes, I guess you’re right. I’m just in a bad mood.” 

When dinner was over, he asked if I would like to come 
for a drive. As we crossed the George Washington Bridge 
and started up the highway toward New York State, I no- 
ticed that his usually quiet hands were clenched on the 
wheel and he sat rigidly in the seat. I wished then that I 
hadn’t agreed to come, but it was too late to change my 
mind. As we branched off onto a road with little white 
guardian posts along the edges, he suddenly seemed to go 
to pieces. 

“Look at those posts,” he cried, and there was a wild 
look in his eyes. “All I’d have to do would be to give one 
little twist to this wheel and we’d crash into them. Then it 
would be all over with. There wouldn’t be any more wor- 
rying, any more thinking! I’ve often thought about it, as 
I drove along. Why shouldn’t I?” 

He’s mad! I thought to myself, feeling terror sweep 
through me. I must stop him thinking that way! Fighting 
to keep my voice steady, I talked on and on for fifteen min- 
utes. To this day I don’t know what I said, but at the end 
I saw him relax and wipe the perspiration off his forehead. 
“I’m sorry,” he said dully. “I guess I went a little crazy.” 
When I got home that night, I found that my knees were 
still shaking. The man must be out of his mind, I thought, 
to behave that way. Could it be that the tension he had gone 
under all these years had finally made his brain snap? I was 
greatly alarmed, but as I knew he was soon leaving the 
country, I decided I would somehow cope with the situ- 

Late in 1937 , 1 picked up an evening paper and saw on 


the front page a picture of my old friend Mrs. Glazer. I 
hurried into a drugstore, ordered a cup of coffee, and with 
trembling hands began to read the attached story. On and 
on I read, unaware that a woman was waiting patiently be- 
hind me to take my seat. 

I folded the newspaper and, almost in a fog, went home. 
As I swayed on the subway strap, I tried to sort out the 
facts in my mind. Mrs. Glazer was really Juliet Stuart 
Poyntz (somewhere along the line she had married a Ger- 
man named Glazer), a prominent person in the Commu- 
nist Party who for years had held extremely important 
posts in the movement. Yet, not long before I first met her, 
she had somehow drifted out of sight and was no longer 
mentioned in Party circles. Some six months previous, 
she had disappeared from her room in the American Wom- 
en’s Hotel on West 57th Street. She had just walked out one 
evening and never returned, leaving her belongings intact. 
During all these months a search had been conducted for 
her but all efforts had failed. 

None of this made any sense to me but I was seriously dis- 
turbed. There were so many frighteningly unanswered 
questions in my mind. Why, if she was a good Communist, 
had she behaved the way she had? Why, if she was a Party 
member, had Comrade Sass been unable to get any informa- 
tion about her at headquarters? What was going on? What 
had happened to her? 

As I closed the front door, the telephone rang. It was Joe 
Eckhart, and he wanted me to have dinner with him. That’s 
good, I thought to myself, as I accepted. He can give me 
the answers on this. As I hurriedly changed my clothes, I 
remembered that I had first spoken to him about Juliet a 
few months back, when he had taken me to dinner at Bar- 


betta’s. I asked jokingly if he and she were friends, since 
they both seemed to patronize the same restaurants. His 
eyes narrowed slightly and he considered his answer care- 

“Yes, I knew her a few years back,” he said. 

When I told him about my experience with her and asked 
what he thought, he suddenly became very evasive. It had 
been so long ago, he said, that he couldn’t really remember 
her very well — in fact, couldn’t even recall where he had 
met her. His tone discouraged any further comment and I 
fell silent. 

Now his strange behavior of that night returned to plague 
me. When I arrived at Longchamps, Eckhart had a cocktail 
waiting on the table for me. It was as if he knew I had read 
the article and was trying to soothe me down before I ex- 
ploded. I sat down and ordered mechanically, then put the 
menu down and faced him across the table. 

“What’s happened to Juliet?” I demanded. “And why 
didn’t you tell me who she was?” Then, suspiciously, 
“Come to think of it, how did you know that the Juliet 
Glazer I told you about because I didn’t have any other 
name for her was Juliet Poyntz?” 

“Very simple,” he replied, staring at the tablecloth. “She 
was such a famous person in the movement that everyone 
knew her by her first name, regardless of what last one 
she hitched on. Besides, your description coincided. As for 
knowing her, everyone in the Communist Party — at least 
those who were in before your days — knew her at one 
time or another. I have met her several times.” He stopped 
and took a sip of water. “There was no particular reason 
for telling you her history. You wouldn’t know much more 
than you know now.” 


“But what’s happened to her?” I persisted. 

“Who knows?” He shrugged his shoulders. “I wouldn’t 
bother about it, if I were you. Why should you get so up- 
set, anyway? You didn’t like the woman. In fact, you were 
always worried for fear that she’d turn up on your door- 
step again. Well, just relax. You’ll never see her again.” 
Something about the words or the intonation of his 
voice frightened me. “What do you mean?” 

“Just what I said; she’ll never bother you again.” There 
was an icy look on his face that discouraged any further 
questions. “Now, let’s have a good dinner, shall we?” 

I lay awake for some time that night puzzling over what 
I had learned about Mrs. Glazer. I wished that Lee Fuhr 
weren’t in Spain, so that I could talk it over with her. What 
did Eckhart know about the case that he wasn’t telling me? 
Or was I, perhaps, silly to feel this queer sense of apprehen- 
sion? And yet . . . When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed 
that Mrs. Glazer, with a hideous look of rage on her face, 
was chasing me over the edge of a precipice. 

It must have been the end of December or early January 
of 1938 that Eckhart called up to say that he was leaving 
the country. Would I, he asked, have dinner with him once 
more? He wanted to introduce me to a friend of his with 
whom I could keep in contact after he left. When I sounded 
puzzled, he explained that perhaps I could be of some help 
to his friend, and anyway I could at least meet the man. 

This turning me over to a perfectly strange person, for 
what seemed to be no good reason, was just as purposeless 
—or so I thought — as my continuing contacts with Joseph 
Eckhart. But I was a disciplined Communist, and as this 
was evidently a Party task I made no objection. 

Eckhart’s friend Marcel turned out to be a tall, well-fed 

[ 86 ] 

man about my age, with unruly dark hair and black eyes. I 
remember little about that first meeting with him except 
that he somehow managed the astounding task of eating 
almost everything on the table within reach and at the same 
time monopolizing the conversation. In rapid succession I 
learned that his parents were Polish, he had been bom and 
brought up in Germany, had lived in Paris for at least ten 
years, was now in the United States as Joe’s “assistant,” and 
didn’t know how much longer he would stay on. To this 
fund of information, he added that he was in the sauerkraut 
business. He excused himself for engaging in what he evi- 
dently considered a lowly occupation by explaining that he 
wrote poetry on the side. 

When he left us, I was still bewildered by this strange 
new character. Eckhart chuckled. 

“He is a bit queer,” he said tolerantly, “and he does talk 
too much. But you’ll get along with him.” 

Marcel, it seemed, had inherited Eckhart’s dark-green 
Packard. One night, not long afterward, he drove by and 
took me to dinner. Over a good meal, he talked volubly, 
discussing everything from art to politics. Finally he re- 
ferred casually to the current Robinson-Rubens case that 
had been occupying prominent space in the newspapers for 
some little time. I had not paid very much attention to 
the news stories, but I did remember that they concerned a 
Mr. Donald Robinson who had gone with his wife to Mos- 
cow, for some unexplained reason, and had quite suddenly 
disappeared. His wife, frantic, had contacted the American 
authorities. The State Department, investigating, had found 
that the name was phoney, that Mr. Robinson was really a 
Mr. Rubens, and that there were very odd angles to the 
case. Mrs. Robinson at that point was arrested by the Soviet 


authorities and placed in Lubianka prison. When the Ameri- 
can Ambassador, Loy Henderson, went to see her, how- 
ever, she suddenly clammed up and refused to say anything. 
None of this had particularly interested me. I had taken it 
for granted that Robinson must be some anti-Soviet agent 
who had sneaked into the U.S.S.R. for sabotage work. Now 
I came to and realized that Marcel was chattering on. 

“. . . and that case is still plenty hot. After all, he was 
one of ours, and his wife’s talking out of turn like that 
spilled the beans. The whole organization’s been shaken up. 
That was why Joe was recalled. I’m glad I wasn’t too 
closely mixed up in it.” 

I stared at him. “One of ours” — that phrase meant that 
Rubens was a Communist. But if he was, what was he doing 
in Moscow under an assumed name, and why had he dis- 
appeared? I knew by long experience that asking questions 
not only was not done in the Communist movement but 
never brought answers anyway, so I kept discreetly silent, 
hoping Marcel would continue. But, seeming to feel that 
he had already said too much, he steered the conversation 
into other channels. 

Marcel stands out in my memory as the oddest member 
of the Communist underground I have ever met, and I won- 
der to this day how he was ever selected for that task. When 
he came round to pick up telephone messages which he had 
asked me to take for him, he would sit down, leisurely drink 
a cup of coffee and talk about Paris. Then, taking a dramatic 
stance in the middle of the room, he would either recite 
from his favorite poet Heine or would read me poems in 
German that he himself had written. Since my knowledge 
of the language was confined to what I had learned in a 
summer-school course, I’m afraid that much of this was 

[ 88 ] 

wasted on me. However, I would always pretend I under- 
stood, not so much from politeness as from the realization 
that if I admitted that it made no sense, he would sit down 
and explain every line and stay even later. 

One foggy night he offered to take me for a drive. As we 
went out Riverside Drive he, as usual, talked volubly, but 
this time there seemed to be an undercurrent of something 
indefinably frightening. He began by telling me he had 
been a member of the “service” (as he termed it) in Paris 
for ten years. He had joined there, he said. Then he went 
on to describe how he had terrified a Communist there — a 
man who he said had run off with some of the Party’s 
money — by sitting in a telephone booth all night and calling 
him up every five minutes; then, when the man picked up 
the receiver, he hung up. I had never heard of this Commu- 
nist technique before, although I have certainly run into it 
since. At the time, it seemed silly and I said so. He laughed 
and I didn’t like the sound of it. 

“He knew what it meant, all right. He knew we were 
after him.” 

While I struggled to think of something to say, he shifted 
to another subject. On our way back he turned to me apolo- 

“I don’t like this kind of work,” he said grimly. “Maybe 
I’m not tough enough.” 

Not knowing what kind of work he was in, I could find 
nothing to say. After a pause, while he was strangely silent, 
I said tentatively, “Why don’t you get into something else?” 

He took his eyes off the road and stared at me savagely. 
“You don’t know what you’re saying! No one ever leaves 
the organization; it’s not like the Catholic Church, where 
you only lose your soul.” 


It seemed to me that he was being unnecessarily emo- 
tional, but then everything about him was dramatic. He 
always behaved like a character on a stage. Good heavens, 
I thought wearily, just who are all these strange people? 
Juliet, Joe, Marcel? And why do they behave in such com- 
pletely mad ways? It’s as if I were wandering around in an 
Alice-in- Wonderland world, where the most absurd things 
seemed to be taken for granted as being the only normal 
ones. I found suddenly that I was fed up with queer char- 
acters, cryptic statements, and odd patterns of behavior. I 
wished that, for a change, someone would make sense. 

Marcel finally departed in the late spring, leaving me an 
address where I could reach him in Paris. Thank goodness, 
I said to myself, he didn’t introduce me to any more strange 
people. After that I lost track of him, except for two post- 
cards from Hendaye, France, on the Spanish frontier. Un- 
doubtedly, I thought, he was doing something to help the 
Loyalist cause in Spain. 

All these strange experiences would, of course, have 
made a logical pattern if I had known that, from Juliet on, 
I had been dealing with the Russian Secret Police. As I was 
later to learn, Juliet Glazer had been detached from the 
open American Communist Party apparatus and assigned 
to the N.K.V.D. not long before I met her. She had been 
trying to recruit Lee, Meg, myself, and God knows how 
many other innocents for undercover work. She must have 
revolted against what she was doing and tried to get out 
of the apparatus, and the N.K.V.D., aware of this, “liqui- 
dated” her. 

Joseph Eckhart, as I discovered later on, was part of the 
Soviet Military Intelligence. Undoubtedly upset by the 
framed-up Trotskyite trials, which not only involved many 


of his friends but threatened to engulf him, too, he was — at 
the time I knew him — living in terror of his life. I have no 
doubt that he will never return. He, like Juliet, was prob- 
ably killed a long time ago. As for Marcel, he somehow sur- 
vived; at the present time he is in New York City working 
in the Department of Public Information of the United 


Une day, the Columbia University Placement Bureau 
called to ask if I would like a job with the Italian Library 
of Information — a new organization. The prospect of get- 
ting back into my field appealed to me and I went down to 
see Ugo V. d’Annunzio, son of the famous Gabriele d’An- 
nunzio of Fiume fame, at Rockefeller Center. I wasn’t then 
sure whether it was Fascist, anti-Fascist, or just plain in the 
middle. However, the new director offered me a job as sec- 
retary and research worker and I accepted it. 

I hadn’t been there long before I discovered that the Ital- 
ian Library of Information was indeed Fascist, a subdivision 
of the Italian government Propaganda Ministry. In fact, it 
registered later on as a “foreign agent.” I could have left 
then but I didn’t want to. This, I thought, was a golden op- 
portunity to find out what propaganda the Fascists were 
foisting on the American people. When I get enough data, 
I thought jubilantly, I’ll blow the whole works up and ex- 
pose their machinations. 

I went down to Communist headquarters and talked to 
a Party functionary on the ninth floor — a tall, dark Italian 
whose pseudonym was “F. Brown.” I later learned that he 
had been a famous revolutionary in Italy, was extremely 
important in the American Party, and ultimately became 


editor of the Communist Unita del Popolo. He was finally 
unmasked and soon departed for his native Italy. Comrade 
Brown was very much interested. He told me to keep an 
eye on all that was going on there and collect publications 
and copies of letters. Then, when we had enough, we could 
do something. 

By fall, however, I was beginning to be discouraged 
about the whole matter. Brown, seemingly very busy, had 
turned me over to a Comrade Nunzio, who was working 
in the Italian Labor movement and not only was little in- 
terested but never showed up for appointments. Finally, in 
despair, I went to Comrade Brown. 

“Look,” I said. “I think it is important to expose what the 
Italian Fascists are doing in this country. They’re not only 
handing out their own slanted literature but they’re also 
peddling anti-Semitic pamphlets and working for the Span- 
ish Nationalists. But Nunzio never does anything! ” 

“I know,” he said wearily. “He’s only interested in the 
labor movement and I’m overworked. But you’re right. It 
is important, especially to the international movement. I’ll 
put you in touch with a comrade from the Comintern. Meet 
me here next Wednesday at seven o’clock.” 

By this time I was well on my way to becoming what the 
Party called a “steeled Bolshevik.” 

Although the discipline was rigid, I accepted it uncom- 
plainingly because I realized that only through the unfalter- 
ing obedience of its members could our movement attain 
its objective. I asked no questions, followed orders unhesi- 
tatingly, and had no doubts about the good faith of the 
Party leaders. That I was unable to come out in my true 
colors and fight for my beliefs openly did go against the 

[ 93 ] 

grain. I disliked having to use phoney names, meet people 
surreptitiously, and masquerade as a “liberal.” But I saw 
clearly that we were living in an evil and corrupt society, 
and I knew it would be unrealistic to ignore that fact. 

Perhaps the only small doubt in my mind arose from my 
experiences with Juliet, Eckhart, and Marcel. They had 
been introduced to me as bona-fide Communists and, being 
well-disciplined, I had continued to work with them, even 
when their subsequent behavior had disturbed me. I had 
said to myself quite firmly that the Party knew what it was 
doing and that it was not up to me to question its workings; 
yet a vague sense of uneasiness remained, even though I 
hesitated to admit it to myself. 

Now, as I walked down University Place with Comrade 
Brown on the way to meet my new contact, I found myself 
wondering just what he would be like. I had been told he 
was a leading agent of the Communist International, that I 
could trust him implicitly, and that I should obey his orders 
without question. Would he, then, be like the other three 
I had met? For a moment I felt a touch of panic and had to 
fight down an impulse to take to my heels. 

At the corner of Eighth Street a small, stocky man in his 
mid-forties appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Brown 
introduced him briefly as “Timmy” and remarked that he 
had to leave because he was late for an appointment. 

“We can drop you off at the subway,” Timmy said. “I 
have my car here.” 

As we clambered into his antique Dodge sedan parked 
around the comer, I thought to myself that certainly my 
new contact was not impressive looking. On the contrary, 
he seemed rather colorless and shabby — a little man in a 
battered brown hat, nondescript suit and well-worn brown 


shoes. We drove in silence to Fourteenth Street, where 
Comrade Brown climbed out. “Goodbye and good luck,” 
he said, as he shook hands with me. Timmy swung the car 
around and headed downtown. 

“I know a restaurant on lower Second Avenue where 
the food is good and we can sit and talk.” 

Two hours later we were still sitting over dinner. I had 
told him all I knew about the workings of the Italian 
Library and a good many personal details about myself. 
Somehow I found myself pouring out to him all my dis- 
turbing experiences with Juliet, Eckhart, and Marcel. For 
the most part he had sat in thoughtful silence, his eyes 
guarded, now and then breaking in with swift, intelligent 
questions. I began to realize that I had underestimated the 
man: his mind was quick, keen, incisive. Also I revised my 
first impression of his appearance, which was decidedly not 
colorless. Although short in stature, he was powerfully 
built with a large head, very broad shoulders and strong 
square hands. His eyes were startlingly blue, his hair bright 
red, and I was intrigued by the fact that his mouth was very 
much like my mother’s. His clothes were well worn, it is 
true, but they showed that indifference to dress which is 
characteristic of so many Communist Party workers. 

We were still talking when he got to his feet. 

“Let’s take a drive,” he said. “Then we can discuss things 

As we drove up through Central Park, he began to di- 
gress from my problem and to talk about the Communist 
movement. He told me of the misery and suffering he had 
seen in Europe, and of the greed and selfishness of a few 
that had made these conditions possible. Someday, he said, 
there would be a new society in which men would live like 

[ 95 ] 

human beings and not like animals. All over the world, 
Communists were helping to make this dream come true, 
although they knew that few of them would live to see it 
realized. Then he went on to tell me about what our com- 
rades were facing in Europe — jail, death, and things that 
were far worse. 

Sensing intense emotion behind his words, I said to him, 
“You sound as if you had gone through some of these ex- 
periences yourself.” 

“Yes,” he said very quietly. “I have. But that is not im- 
portant.” The life of a Communist, he said, is not easy — 
only the strongest, mentally and physically, can survive. 
That is why, he added sadly, we lose so many people. They 
cannot take the hardships involved. 

By now we had reached my house. He shut off the igni- 
tion and leaned back in his seat. 

“You know,” he said, “our movement is somewhat like a 
buggy overcrowded with people going up a steep and rocky 
road. At every curve someone loses his hold and falls off. 
That, of course, is what happened to the three people you 
met before. They started off as good Communists, but they 
weren’t quite strong enough to hold on.” 

I felt as if someone had hit me in the pit of my stomach. 
Through the waves of dizziness that swirled around me, 
I heard his voice as though from a long way off. After a 
brief time, I steadied myself. What was he saying? 

“. . . and so you must see that the job you hold is vitally 
important to the Party. You must stay there at all costs, 
watch what goes on, and report it to me. We will also be 
interested in any documents you can safely bring out. You 
will contact me through a third party whose telephone 


number I am going to give you. She can reach me at any 
time. Do you understand?” 

I nodded, unable to trust my voice. Inexorably he went 

“You are now no longer an ordinary Communist but a 
member of the underground. You must cut yourself off 
completely from all your old Communist friends. If you 
happen to meet them and they get curious, you will have to 
tell them that you have dropped out of the Party. You can- 
not even be known as a ‘liberal’ and move in progressive 
circles. Instead, you must pose as an ultraconservative, with 
a slight leaning toward Fascism.” 

I leaned wearily back against the seat and tried to collect 
my thoughts. All this had happened too fast for me. As if 
he sensed what was going on in my mind, Timmy suddenly 
spoke in an oddly gentle voice. 

“I know that all this is going to be very hard for you. 
You will be completely alone except for me. Your fellow 
comrades may even think you a traitor. But the Party 
would not ask this sacrifice of you if it were not vitally im- 

Then he smiled, and the hard, watchful look seemed to 
drop from his face. I saw with amazement that he was a 
very human person, and I found myself liking him. 

“Good night and sleep well,” he said. 

But sleep did not come easily that night. I lay awake try- 
ing to sort out my thoughts. I was glad to know that my 
“unholy trio” had turned out to be traitors — I had never 
really trusted them anyway. Now the last small fragment 
of doubt was gone. Even though I didn’t fully understand 
him, there was something reassuring about my new contact. 

197 ] 

I liked his simple direct manner, his quick intelligent mind, 
his obvious air of sincerity. And then, as I thought about 
my future, a wave of terror swept over me. Without quite 
knowing why, I felt that I was entering a land from which 
there was no return. 

In the weeks that followed I saw Timmy quite fre- 
quently. We usually met in small, out-of-the-way restau- 
rants where we would not be seen, and after eating drove 
around in his car. He would look over the material I had 
brought, listen to what I had to report and then, going over 
the situation with me, point out what was important and 
what trivial and tell me what to look for in the future. Un- 
doubtedly my “greenness” at undercover work exasperated 
him, but he was always very patient. He would carefully 
explain why I had done the wrong thing and then proceed 
to set forth the correct methods. My amateurish attempts 
to listen at closed doors and search wastebaskets especially 
annoyed him. 

“That’s not the way to operate,” he declared flatly. “No 
one does it except in mystery novels. It’s too risky. Con- 
centrate on impressing the Library with the fact that you 
are trustworthy, so that more and more they will take you 
into their confidence. Then we shall be able to get all the 
information we need.” 

During these weeks my liking and admiration for Timmy 
became greater. He was a stern taskmaster, it is true, but 
I felt that no matter how much pressure he was putting on 
me, he was driving himself still harder. I would look at his 
tired eyes and haggard face and wonder how he managed 
to keep going. Strangely enough, even though he had told 
me that his birthplace was in Russia, he reminded me of my 
New England parents. There was the same simple, plain 


way of life, the same capacity for hard work, the same un- 
swerving loyalty to an ideal, the same shy kindness and 
generosity, the same feeling for human pain and suffering. 
I began to look on him as the ideal Communist — a man 
who, despite his small stature, was head and shoulders above 
anyone else I had ever known. 

It was on a cold, snowy night in December that I discov- 
ered I was in love with him. He had parked the car while 
we went to eat, and when we came out sometime later on 
we found it wedged firmly in a snowdrift. After a great 
deal of pushing and tugging we finally managed to free the 
wheels and climbed panting into the car. I surveyed my 
ruined hat sadly. 

“Let me shake it off for you,” he said, and reached over 
for it. 

His hand touched mine, I looked at him, and then quite 
suddenly I found myself in his arms, his lips on mine. We 
both drew away simultaneously and stared at each other. 
Time and space seemed to stand still, and in my heart there 
was a strange sense of peace, as though at last I had come 
home. Then he smiled shakily and put his hand over mine. 

“I’ve been afraid this would happen. Don’t you know 
I’ve been in love with you since we first met? ” 

I could only shake my head, still trying to comprehend 
what had happened to me. He switched on the ignition and 
started the car. 

“Let’s drive for a while.” 

It was then well after midnight and the snow was coming 
down heavily, but I don’t think either of us was aware of 
it. He drove furiously up Riverside Drive and out along the 
Hudson River, through sleeping town after town. With my 
coat pulled tightly around me, I settled back and let myself 

[ 99 ] 

float away into an ecstasy that seemed to have no beginning 
and no end. Nothing mattered any more — I had found the 
man I loved. His silence was not a barrier between us, even 
if I momentarily wondered what his thoughts were. There 
was an inexplicable comfort and warmth in our nearness. 
As the first streaks of dawn began to touch the sky, he 
slowed his speed and turned to me. 

“Perhaps we’d better go back now.” 

In a little while the first edges of the sun began to show 
above the hills. We stopped the car and sat hand in hand, 
watching it. It was the most beautiful sunrise I had ever 
seen. Finally he started the motor and we drove on again, 
still in silence. As we neared the outskirts of New York, he 
seemed to come out of his reverie. 

“I love you very much,” he said, almost as though he 
were talking to himself, “and I should be very happy at this 
moment. Yet there is the shadow of pain in my heart be- 
cause I know what lies before us.” 

I didn’t understand what he meant. In my exaltation I 
had not thought of our love as something that would be a 
pain or a problem to him. It bewildered me and I sat quite 
still, listening. 

“It would be so very simple if only we were two ordi- 
nary Communists, moving in Party circles. Then we could 
live together as good comrades do. Perhaps, if you wished, 
we could even be married legally at City Hall in order to 
conform to bourgeois conventions. That is what we would 
do under normal circumstances. That is what you would 
want, isn’t it? ” he asked, turning to me. 

I was surprised at the question. Actually I had not 
thought about it; indeed I had not thought beyond being so 

[ ioo ] 

completely happy. After almost four years in the Party I 
had taken the Communist pattern of marital life quite for 
granted. Marriage, we had been told, was an institution in- 
vented by the ruling class to perpetuate its power. Commu- 
nists who adhered strictly to Party doctrine lived together 
as man and wife without bourgeois legal sanctions; others 
made a compromise with the world around them and took 
out a marriage license. Why, then, was he asking me this 
and looking at me so sadly? 

“I can see that you are puzzled,” he said. “But then you 
don’t understand the situation we are in. The underground 
operates very differently from the open Party that you are 
used to. As you have discovered, each of us is cut off com- 
pletely from all normal Communist life. We can have no 
contacts that are not strictly necessary for the work of the 
Party. Even these few relationships must be kept on an en- 
tirely impersonal level, otherwise the whole organization 
might be endangered. We are forbidden to form close 
friendships and, especially, to fall in love. You and I have 
no right, under Communist discipline, to feel the way we 
do about each other.” 

The whole fabric of my world seemed to be collapsing 
around me. 

“But that’s absurd,” I cried. “They have no right to de- 
mand that!” 

“Yes,” he said gently, “they do. If personal relationships 
are allowed to get in the way of the movement, we shall 
never achieve our goal. That goes without saying. And, 
yet, at a time like this, it is very difficult to obey instruc- 

“What are you going to do?” I asked dully, experiencing 

[ ioi ] 

directly what I had long known — the fact that, with Com- 
munists, Party discipline intrudes even into their intimate 
personal affairs. 

“I don’t know,” he replied, gripping the wheel very hard. 
“I should give you a new contact and walk out of your life 
forever. But I don’t seem to be able to do it.” 

We again fell into silence and had reached upper Man- 
hattan before he spoke again. 

“There is only one way out,” he explained reluctantly, 
“and that is to stick together and keep our relationship un- 
known to everyone. It will be a hard life for both of us. 
We will not be able to live together; we will only be able 
to see each other occasionally. You will have to take me 
completely on faith, without knowing who I am, where I 
live, or what I do for a living. Do you think you would be 
able to do that?” 

I sat staring at the road ahead, only half aware that we 
were nearing my neighborhood. What should I say? And 
then I knew that I had already made my decision. Here was 
the man whom I admired, loved, and trusted. I belonged 
with him, no matter how hard the road ahead might be. 

“I’ll stick with you.” And on these words we parted. 

By early spring, 1939, my days with the Italian Library of 
Information were running out. The director had somehow 
stumbled over an anti-Fascist article that I had written for 
the Columbia Spectator back in 1935. He flung it angrily on 
my desk and asked me what I was doing in the Library if 
I had such violent objections to Fascism. So I was not sur- 
prised when I was told my services were no longer needed. 

Meanwhile Timmy and I were shaping up what life to- 
gether we could. Obviously we had to live apart. Most of 
our meetings were on business, but whenever he could find 

[ 102 ] 

time from his work, he would snatch a few hours with me. 
Occasionally we could take a brief week end, get in the car, 
and drive to some out-of-the-way place — an inn or motel. 
After I left the Library, I expected to be sent back to the 
open Party, but Timmy emphasized I would be more use- 
ful if I continued to work with him. This pleased me very 
much, for it meant that I would be able to see him more 
often. On his instructions, I left the Columbia University 
area, where he felt that I was too well known to the Com- 
munists, and took an apartment in Greenwich Village. 

During the rest of the spring and summer I did “odd” 
jobs for Timmy, meanwhile earning my living as a trans- 
lator and secretary. I acted as a “mail drop,” receiving let- 
ters postmarked “Canada,” addressed to me but meant for 
Timmy, and turning them over to him unopened. Much 
later I discovered his correspondent up there was Fred 
Rose, a leading Canadian Communist and later Member of 
Parliament, who was sent to prison for espionage in 1946 . 1 
made copies of letters and documents Timmy brought to 
my apartment. Mostly, however, I did research work for 
him, digging up facts on people and situations in which he 
was interested. 

Underground methods were now beginning to seem 
quite natural to me. I no longer thought it odd that I had 
to communicate with Timmy via a third party, that I must 
always use a pay telephone when calling him, that if he 
could not come to my apartment we could only meet on 
out-of-the-way street corners. Whenever I had an appoint- 
ment to see him, I was almost automatically on the alert to 
determine whether or not anyone was following me. Then, 
too, I had learned all sorts of elaborate precautions to pro- 
tect the documents and material I had in my possession. If 

[ 103 ] 

I had to leave the apartment, I was careful to put them in 
my black trunk and tie a thin black thread around it so that 
I would know if they had been tampered with in my ab- 
sence. And to make doubly sure, I arranged two books in 
a certain way behind my front door so that anyone who 
came would inevitably knock them out of position. I never 
questioned why this pattern of behavior was necessary; I 
took it for granted as being part of the normal underground 

In the summer of 1939 a number of leading Canadian 
Communists came down to New York and Timmy, who 
by now had a great deal of confidence in me, asked if I 
would help him in his dealings with them. 

“I want my meeting with them to look as natural as pos- 
sible,” he said. “So we will take them out to lunch or din- 
ner, and you keep their wives occupied while I transact my 
business with the men.” 

What this “business” was, he never told me, and I never 
asked. I think I had some vague idea that he was a liaison 
man between the American Party and the Canadian one. 
So, on numerous occasions we entertained the visiting 
Canadian functionaries. Two of them I remember quite 
clearly: Sam Carr, the Communist official who, on his arrest 
in 1949 by the F.B.I., was deported and is now serving a 
long prison sentence for espionage in Canada; and Tim 
Buck, the head of the Canadian Party. The latter I got to 
know quite well, because he stayed in New York longer 
than the others. He was a long, lean, rather likable man 
with a yen for Russian food and “Vat 69” Scotch whiskey. 
One night I recall that we took him out to the Soviet Pavil- 
ion at the New York World’s Fair, where he was received 

[ 104] 

with a great flourish and given not only a superspecial din- 
ner but all he could drink of his prized “Vat 69.” 

It was during this same summer of 1939 that two mem- 
bers of the Mexican Communist Party began shuttling be- 
tween Mexico and New York. One of them was a tall, dark, 
fierce-eyed young man by the name of Leopolo Arenal; 
the other was a short, excessively fat man. I had no idea who 
Arenal might be, but the fat man I later learned was a 
Mexican painter. They, too, had business with Timmy, and 
because Leopolo always brought his wife Helena along, I 
was taken to lunches and dinners to perform the same role 
that I had for the Canadians. With wifely pride, I began to 
realize that Timmy was a much more important man than 
I had suspected. Obviously, he was a liaison man not only 
with the Canadian Party but also with the Mexican one. 

What I did not know until later on was that the two of 
them were not just Mexican Communists but part of the 
Russian Secret Police’s hatchet squad. Even then they were 
laying plans to “liquidate” Leon Trotsky, the Russian ex- 
revolutionary and Stalin’s bitterest enemy, who had taken 
refuge in Mexico. Timmy needed a “mail drop” where he 
could receive letters from the Mexicans, and he was unwill- 
ing to use my address since it might arouse suspicion were 
I to have correspondents in both Canada and Mexico. 
After some thought, he decided to have the letters sent to 
Leopolo’s sister-in-law, Rose Arenal, a school teacher then 
separated from her husband and living in the Prospect Park 
section of Brooklyn. I was introduced to Rose, who was 
told only that I was “Elizabeth,” a good and trusted com- 
rade, and it was arranged that I go out to her house every 
so often to pick up whatever mail she had. 


One night at the end of August 1939 Timmy and I were 
talking in my apartment when the news of the Nazi-Soviet 
Nonaggression Pact came over the radio. It hit me like a 
bombshell. Like all Communists, I regarded the Soviet 
Union as the land of hope, the one country that had 
achieved Communism, the leading force in the struggle for 
a better world. Nazism and Fascism represented all the evils 
we were fighting against. How, then, could the Soviet 
Union make an alliance with Nazi Germany? It couldn’t 
be true — the report must be wrong. Timmy, however, 
didn’t seem perturbed. 

“No, the news is probably correct.” 

“But it can’t be,” I protested. “Here we are working to 
promote a united front of all progressive forces to fight 
the evils of Fascism and Nazism. How could the Soviet 
Union make an alliance with the enemy?” 

“You don’t understand the dialectics of the situation,” he 
explained, looking at me thoughtfully. “Our ultimate objec- 
tive of building a new world always remains constant, but 
we must be realistic and adjust ourselves to the facts as we 
find them. In the words of a very famous revolutionary, 
‘we will reach Communism even if we have to crawl there 
on our bellies.’ This means that we may have to twist and 
turn and do seemingly contradictory things, but we never 
lose sight of our final goal. Now, take this present move. 
The Soviet Union is the only Communist country in the 
world, and as such she is a strong force in our world move- 
ment. She must be preserved at all costs if our hope for a 
Communist world is to come true. Yet you and I know that 
she is surrounded by a vicious group of capitalist nations 
waiting to pounce on her and crush her. The situation at 
the present time is such that if she hadn’t signed that pact, 

[ 106] 

Hitler would most certainly have attacked her. Not only is 
she totally unprepared to fight but neither the United States 
nor Great Britain would have come to her aid, for all their 
noble speeches. In fact, they would have been secretly glad 
to see her destroyed.” 

He sat forward on his chair, his blue eyes intent. “Don’t 
think this alliance,” he continued, “means the Soviet Union 
either likes or trusts Germany. It’s merely a stalling move 
to give her time to build up her resources to face a future 
war of aggression. Don’t worry,” he concluded grimly, 
“we shall continue to fight Nazism and Fascism just as vig- 
orously as we did in the past, and the Russian Party will be 
secretly aiding us.” 

I thought it over. As a matter of fact I knew relatively 
little about Marxism-Leninism, compared to a man like 
Timmy, who had spent his entire life as a revolutionary. 
And what he said made sense from a practical viewpoint — 
and that was obviously the most important thing. Certainly 
the Soviet leaders, with their vast experience, should know 
precisely what they were doing. Who was I to criticize? 

This conviction was confirmed about a week later when 
Timmy came to me, obviously in a very serious mood. 

“We’ve got to step up the fight against Nazism because 
the world situation is growing very critical. And so I need 
your help.” 

The problem as he explained it to me was this: the Party 
suspected that Richard Waldo, then president of the 
McClure Newspaper Syndicate on lower West Street, was 
a German agent. Every effort had been made to find out 
what he was doing. They had ransacked his office at night 
after entering with a skeleton key; they had sent in Com- 
munist undercover people in the guise of employees. Since 

[ 107 ] 

none had been particularly successful, it would be necessary 
for someone to get a job as his secretary. 

“That’s where you come in,” he said. “Waldo is notori- 
ously hard to get along with. He continually fires his secre- 
taries, and right now he’s in the market for a new one. 
You’re a secretary, and with your background with the 
Fascist Italian Library I think you can get in there. What 
do you think?” 

At first I balked at the idea. I was certainly anxious to 
fight Nazism, but my short experience with undercover 
work in the Italian Library had shown me just how nerve- 
racking such a job could be. Moreover, I still disliked hav- 
ing continually to act out a role. Timmy eyed me sternly. 

“A good Bolshevik has courage and discipline,” he said, 
“and he is strong enough to overcome his weaknesses and 
accept the will of the Party. I wanted so much to be proud 
of you and instead you are letting me down.” 

I was ashamed of my momentary rebellion. I did love him 
very much and I wanted to be a good Communist. He did 
not force me to make an immediate decision; instead I was 
left to thrash out the matter for myself. 

On Labor Day week end we drove up to Connecticut 
and found a quiet place near New Haven. We were both 
utterly exhausted and wanted a complete rest. But we were 
rudely interrupted. Monday morning the radio blared out 
the news that the Germans had invaded Poland. Timmy’s 
face grew very set. 

“This is it,” he announced. “From now on we will be 
on a wartime basis, with little time for rest or pleasure. 
Pack your things and we’ll get back to the city.” 

The next day I mustered my courage and went down to 
the McClure Newspaper Syndicate, pretending that I had 

[ 108 ] 

been sent there by an employment agency. To my great 
surprise, Mr. Waldo liked me and the job of being his per- 
sonal secretary was mine. Shortly after, on September 17, 
Russia invaded Poland. 

“I don’t understand,” I said to Timmy. “Making a non- 
aggression pact for self-protection is one thing and invad- 
ing an innocent country is another.” 

“You don’t know the facts,” he replied. “The Polish 
government now in control is quite as beastly and vicious 
as was the old Czarist one in Russia. The vast mass of people 
in Poland have been ground under the heel of a ruthless, 
greedy clique of men. Germany’s invasion has given our 
Soviet comrades the opportunity to go in and liberate the 
Polish workers and peasants.” 

On the heels of the Russian invasion came a swift shift in 
the policy of the American Communist Party. Ever since 
I had been a member, our entire program had revolved 
around building a united front of all peoples and nations to 
fight against the Fascist aggressors. Internationally, we 
stood for collective security; domestically, we upheld the 
New Deal and its “progressive” policies. Now, suddenly, 
the Party denounced this second world war as an “imperial- 
ist” one and demanded that the United States stay out of it. 
It continued, however, to support the “liberal” domestic 
ideas of the Roosevelt administration. This abrupt about- 
face in tactics puzzled me. I took my problem to Timmy. 
“Will you please explain to me what’s going on?” I asked. 
“It’s very simple,” he said. “We worked to build up a 
united-front program because we hoped that through a 
coalition of peace-loving nations we could avoid war. Now 
it’s happened. And as you can see from what I told you 
about Poland, it’s not a people’s war. It’s just the same old 

[ 109] 

conflict between greedy ‘imperialist’ powers that’s been 
going on for centuries. Each side is fighting for its own self- 
ish interests and doesn’t care anything about the welfare of 
humanity. Why should we let our country get into this 
struggle? Thousands of good Americans would be killed 
and nothing would be gained by it.” 

By now I had arrived at the point where I relied almost 
completely on Timmy’s judgment in matters of Communist 
doctrine, and I accepted his explanation of the change in 
“line” without any question. It was perfectly clear from 
the work I was doing that the Party was continuing to fight 
Fascism, even though publicly it was pursuing a seemingly 
contradictory policy. It never occurred to me to question 
the good faith of the Party leaders. I was quite sure they 
were following the best course possible in view of the cir- 

Isolated as I was in the underground, I was completely 
unaware of what was going on in the open Party. Only 
much later on did I learn that the double news of the Soviet 
Union’s invasion of Poland and the change in our program 
had spread consternation throughout the Party ranks. Many 
members, among them old friends of mine, became disillu- 
sioned and turned in their cards; others still in the grip of 
Communist ideology managed to rationalize their misgiv- 
ings and remained. 

During the early fall of 1939 public opinion in this 
country began to turn against the Soviet Union, which was 
denounced as an aggressor nation and excoriated for her 
brutal attack on Poland. This same violent feeling was 
directed against the American Communist Party, always 
vigorously defending the Russian point of view. It was 
called “Russian-inspired”; it was accused of having deserted 

[ no] 

the anti-Fascist movement in its hour of greatest need and 
of being itself Fascist dominated. With growing amazement 
and alarm, I watched the hysteria build up. Was this the be- 
ginning of a Communist witch-hunt? 

In the midst of all this furor I was at work in the McClure 
Newspaper Syndicate — a hard, grueling job. Mr. Waldo 
was difficult to please, and I lived in constant terror of his 
acid, biting criticisms. Indeed there was no peace anywhere 
in the office, for all his employees were so afraid of displeas- 
ing him that they were jumpy and on edge. But I carried 
out my Party task as well as I could, hating each moment 
of it but happy in the thought that I was helping to fight 
Fascism. I kept track of all the strange people with whom 
Mr. Waldo was in contact, watched what was going on in 
the office, and smuggled out copies of interesting documents 
and correspondence. At night I would come home frazzled 
and exhausted and tumble into bed; in the morning I would 
set my teeth and go back to work. And always there was 
Timmy — sympathetic, encouraging, instructing. 

I tried to make friends with the other employees but I 
found them rather aloof and uncommunicative. Just why, 
I thought to myself, do they behave that way, and why in 
the world do they continue working in an office where the 
salaries are not good and the atmosphere so uncongenial? 
Five years later I learned with amusement that I wasn’t the 
only “plant” in Mr. Waldo’s office. His activities were evi- 
dently known to a number of anti-Fascist organizations — 
not to mention actual intelligence agencies — and most of 
the other employees were also there to spy on him. 

Sometime that fall I suddenly discovered, quite by acci- 
dent, who Timmy was and where he worked. Up to then 
I had vaguely assumed he was some sort of journalist, be- 

[ in 3 

cause he seemed to know so much about the newspaper 
world. I met him on this occasion in Madison Square Park. 
While we sat for a while on a bench watching the pigeons 
and talking, he pulled a bunch of tickets out of his pocket. 

“I’ve been able to get some passes to a good play and I’m 
going to give them to my friends. Would you like a cou- 

He handed me two and I idly noted what I thought was 
the name “Golos” written on one of them. 

“These must be earmarked for another friend of yours,” 
I said, pointing to the penciled notation. “My name isn’t 

I was quite unprepared for his reaction. His face went 
very white and his eyes became wary. With an abrupt mo- 
tion, he got to his feet and started to walk away. 

“I’ve got to get back to work,” he stated coldly. 

Completely puzzled, I followed him out of the park. A 
week later, as we sat over dinner in a restaurant on the 
lower East Side, I started to ask him a question, “Timmy, 
I would . . .” 

“Why do you keep pretending you don’t know my real 
name,” he broke in angrily. “You’ve known it ever since I 
gave you those tickets.” 

I stared at him in bewilderment and then light dawned. 

“Then your name is Golos?” I asked. 

“Don’t put on an act,” he said crossly. “You know per- 
fectly well I am Jacob Golos.” 

His tone implied that any Party person ought to know 
who he was, but the name itself meant nothing to me. In 
the Communist circles in which I had previously moved, 
knowledge of Party personages and activities in this coun- 
try was scanty. Yet, to anyone who had had a long experi- 

[ 112 ] 

ence with the Communist movement in the United States, 
Jacob Golos was a famous person. He had been extremely 
active in the early days of the Party, among other things 
helping to set up the Technical Aid Society for Soviet Rus- 
sia — an organization for the training of men and women to 
be sent from the United States to the U.S.S.R. Later on 
he became increasingly well known, especially as one of the 
editors of the Russian Communist newspaper Novy Mir, 
published in New York. By the early thirties he was head of 
World Tourists, a travel agency set up by the American 
Communist Party in 1927 for the dual purpose of making 
money and encouraging tourists to go to Russia. Moreover, 
he was high up in Party circles, being one of the three- 
man Central Control Commission, that ruthless disciplinary 
committee which keeps the American comrades in line. He 
was one of the “behind-the-scenes” manipulators who actu- 
ally gave the orders in the Communist Party — I remember 
his telling me much later that he attended all the top Com- 
munist meetings, where he sat behind a black curtain so that 
he wouldn’t be seen. 

Not wanting to hurt his feelings, I refrained from telling 
Timmy that I hadn’t the slightest idea who Golos was. Per- 
haps, too, I was somewhat bewildered and upset at his atti- 

“Well,” he admitted resignedly, “now that you know, I 
suppose it does make things simpler. From now on you can 
phone me at World Tourists when you want me and forget 
that other telephone number. But remember to be very 
careful what you say. I am never sure whether or not my 
wires are being tapped.” Then he smiled. “I didn’t mean to 
jump on you but you know the rules of the underground. 
Perhaps in a way I’m glad because I don’t have to pretend to 


you any more. And you’d better call me Yasha and not 

A deep sense of relief filled me. Of his love I was always 
sure, and now I knew that what bothered him was not that 
he personally didn’t trust me — it was Party discipline again. 
For the next month or so Yasha (occasionally I forgot and 
called him Timmy) told me nothing further about himself 
personally, although he did let me know more about World 
Tourists. It was, he said, a travel agency. Although World 
Tourists handled travel reservations to every country, its 
main business was sending individual tourists and groups to 
the Soviet Union, on which it got preferential treatment. 
The result was that during the thirties it did a land-office 
business in Russian travel and the profits rolled in. 

“Don’t think I’m a millionaire,” he said laughingly. “Al- 
though the books don’t show it, World Tourists is really 
owned by the Party. I just run it for them and receive a 
salary for my services. All the money that we make goes to 

I puzzled over this revelation briefly. I hadn’t realized 
that the Party engaged in “bourgeois” industry. Somehow 
I had thought, as a good many Communists did, that its 
income derived solely from the dues of its members and 
from the contributions of sympathizers. It seemed there 
were a good many things that I didn’t know. 

What I knew about Yasha personally was very little. I 
learned that he lived somewhere in a cheap rented room 
and spent the minimum on himself. A life of poverty — at 
one time he and his roommate at college could never attend 
classes at the same time because they had only one pair of 
pants between them — had taught him to be frugal. At first 
I tried to get him to buy a new hat — his battered brown felt 

[ 1 14 1 

was a particular bone of contention between us — but he so 
consistently refused that finally I gave up. 

While Yasha and I were getting to know each other bet- 
ter in the little things of life, the general feeling of antag- 
onism toward the Communist Party was growing in the 
United States. Even the Roosevelt administration, with 
which the Party had been friendly and whose “progres- 
sive” policies it had supported, was growing hostile. Yasha 
began to be alarmed at these developments. 

“It looks as if the American government is going to crack 
down on us,” he said. “Perhaps the Party will be outlawed 
and driven underground.” 

Not long after, the blow fell. One night Yasha came to 
see me looking white and strained. 

“I’m afraid it’s happened. Our offices were raided this 
morning by the Department of Justice and they’ve planted 
agents at the front door to question anyone who comes in. 
It’s very lucky that I told you under no circumstances to 
come up there. Otherwise you might have been involved.” 

“But what excuse do they have for doing that?” I de- 
manded indignantly. 

“They say that since we have a contract with Intourist, 
we should have registered as foreign agents. That’s absurd, 
of course. The American Express has a similar contract and 
they haven’t been bothered.” 

He got to his feet and began to pace up and down the 

“I’ve been served with a duces tecum subpoena,” he said 
wearily, “and that means I’ve got to appear in court with all 
my files and documents. There’s no time to destroy any- 
thing, and some of that material is going to involve our 
comrades badly. Why didn’t I get rid of it before?” 


He sat down on the couch and put his head between his 
hands. Quietly I moved over and put my arm around him. 
This was going to be a bad strain for him, and already he 
was so tired and overworked. 

The indictment of World Tourists went before the Fed- 
eral Court in New York and the trial began. It seemed to 
drag on endlessly, first in New York and later in Washing- 
ton. Yasha was on the stand hour after hour. The American 
authorities were trying to get him to admit that he had 
been mixed up in illegal activities, but solidly and unwaver- 
ingly he stood his ground. After his death one of his law- 
yers, Joe Brodsky, told me what a magnificent fight he had 
put up. 

“I remember one of the last days in court,” he said. 
“Golos had been battered for days but, tired as he was, he 
refused to give in. During the recess one of the prosecuting 
attorneys, his nerves frayed by the long battle, rushed up 
to Golos, grabbed him by the coat lapels and shook him. 

‘You ,’ he cried. ‘Why the hell won’t you talk?’ Golos 

just looked at him quietly, disengaged himself, and walked 

But the frightful strain was telling on Yasha. His red hair 
was becoming grayer and sparser, his blue eyes seemed to 
have no more fire in them, his face became habitually white 
and taut. When he came to see me, he would fall on the 
couch, trying to catch his breath after the three flights of 
stairs he had climbed, and he would complain of a queer 
pain on the left side of his chest. 

Increasing worry about him was beginning to make me 
edgy, and occasionally I would blow up and ask why he 
didn’t take things easier. He would smile crookedly. 

“I can’t rest,” he would say. “I still have a job to do. 

[ 116 J 

What happens to me personally doesn’t matter, but the fate 
of our movement is important.” 

What was aging Yasha was not alone the grueling trial 
but the sense that he had let down his old comrades. The 
files which the Department of Justice had seized in their 
World Tourists raid proved conclusively that Earl Browder 
had gone abroad under a pseudonym and with the aid of 
faked papers. He was arrested on the charge of passport 
fraud. This seemed to upset Yasha more than anything else. 

“Earl is my friend,” he kept saying, over and over. “I 
have known him for many years and I like him. It is my 
carelessness that is going to send him to jail.” 

Night after night, I would hold him in my arms, trying 
to make him relax. Then, after he had finally fallen into 
a restless sleep, I would lie awake for hours trying to 
straighten things out in my mind. I was so terribly tired 
myself: the combination of the nerve-racking job at Wal- 
do’s office and the strain of worrying about Yasha was be- 
ginning to tell on me. Over and over I wished we could get 
away from this driving life and go off by ourselves and lead 
a normal existence. I knew this was impossible, that Yasha 
had always been and would always be a Communist revo- 
lutionary, and that in accepting him I had automatically 
accepted this sort of life. 

Mingled with my fatigue and apprehension for him, too, 
was a smoldering indignation against the United States gov- 
ernment. What right did they have to persecute his friend, 
Earl Browder, for going abroad on a false passport? Obvi- 
ously he had done so to avoid difficulties with the authorities 
of the Fascist countries through which he had to pass in 
order to get to Moscow. A good many top United States 
officials traveled under assumed names — as did famous per- 

[ 117 ] 

sonages wanting to be incognito — and no one seemed to 
think it illegal. The Justice Department was just using this 
episode to “get” our people, and in the process they were 
killing the man I loved. I began to hate them bitterly. 

Meanwhile, it looked as though more and more Commu- 
nist organizations were being caught in the Justice Depart- 
ment’s net. First there was the Daily Worker, the American 
Communist Party’s official organ; then International Pub- 
lishers, headed by Alexander Trachtenberg, a famous Com- 
munist; and many others. In each case the charge was the 
same: the organization was tied up with the Soviet govern- 
ment and had broken the law by failing to register as a 
“foreign agent.” The strategy of the Justice Department 
was rapidly becoming clear. It intended to force all our 
organizations to register as “agents of the Soviet govern- 
ment,” thus labeling the whole American Communist move- 
ment as Russian inspired. In the current atmosphere of 
hysteria against the Russian invasion of Poland, it would be 
extremely simple to pass laws in this country outlawing the 
Party as an un-American group, thus forcing us under- 

In spite of the fact that the Justice Department seemed 
to be getting nowhere, American Communist officials were 
worried. Long experience with Justice Department opera- 
tives had taught them that these people were tenacious and 
did not give up easily. Because of this, Yasha told me, a 
meeting of the Central Committee was being called. When 
I saw him the evening after, I was frightened at his appear- 
ance. With a gesture of utter weariness he sank into a chair 
and in a few brief words told me what had happened. 

It had been a long session. As the hours had dragged on, 
the room had become choked with smoke and the members 


had begun to doze in their seats. Finally a decision was 
reached. The Party would give the Justice Department a 
“victim” in the hope, as a quid pro quo, that the witch-hunt 
would be called off. One by one the various organizations 
involved in the raids had been considered, then the members 
of the committee had settled on World Tourists as the sacri- 
ficial goat. 

“I protested against the decision” — Y asha spoke like a 
beaten man — “but I was overruled. And as a good Com- 
munist, I’m obliged to carry it out.” Then he got to his feet 
and paced up and down the room. “I never thought,” he 
stated in a tone of complete despair, “that I would live to 
see the day when I would have to plead guilty in a bourgeois 

He threw himself down on the bed and turned his face to 
the wall. Very gently I covered him with a blanket and in 
a few minutes he was sleeping the sleep of utter exhaustion. 

For some time I sat staring at the wall. Why did the Party 
have to demand this added sacrifice of him when he had 
already given so much? Why did they have to crucify him 
like this? 

According to the Party’s instructions, he went before 
a Federal judge and pleaded guilty to the charge of not 
registering as an agent of the Soviet government. He was 
given a suspended sentence of one year and an order to fill 
out the foreign agents’ registration forms immediately. 
However, the cases against the other Communist organiza- 
tions were not pressed and so International Publishers, the 
Daily Worker, and the rest did not have to declare them- 
selves as agents of the Soviet government. Temporarily, at 
least, the American Communist Party had escaped from a 
bad situation. 

[» 9 ] 


After the trial was over and done with, Yasha became 
more like his normal self. He looked more rested, the color 
came back to his face, his step was buoyant again. 

But the next few months were very difficult ones for him. 
The office of World Tourists, formerly an important or- 
ganization in left-wing circles, became overnight a place to 
be avoided. Promptly after the trial’s conclusion, Commu- 
nist officers in the business, among them Alexander Trach- 
tenberg, hurriedly tendered their resignations and took to 
their heels. Old customers, afraid of being involved with 
an organization now labeled a Soviet agency, drifted away. 
Yasha sat in his empty office, feeling himself an outcast. 

“The rats are deserting the sinking ship,” he said grimly 
to me. 

Meanwhile, back in February 1940 I had been fired by 
Mr. Waldo in one of his habitual fits of rage. Walking home 
that night, I felt a sense of relief at being out of that weird 
place, but I did hate to tell Yasha that I had let him down. 
He took the news quite calmly, however, lost no time in 
instructing another comrade to take my place while I found 
a job in an advertising agency, and continued to carry on 
with the usual odd jobs he gave me. 

On my way home one May afternoon I stopped at a 

[ 120] 

drugstore and telephoned Rose Arenal to see if she had any 
letters. She sounded tense and as if she were on the verge of 

“No,” she said. “There’s nothing. But please come see me 
this evening. Something terrible has happened.” 

Wondering just what was going on, I sat down at the 
counter and ordered a Coca-Cola, meanwhile glancing over 
the evening paper. Then I froze in my seat. What I found 
was only a small item, datelined Mexico City, but I had to 
reread it five times before I was able to take it all in. Leon 
Trotsky’s personal guard — an American named Robert 
Sheldon Harte — had been kidnaped and later found shot in 
the back, “Mexican style.” The murderers were named as 
Leopolo and Luis Arenal. I folded the paper and walked 
into the nearest telephone booth. Yasha would still be at the 

“I must see you immediately,” I said, putting what ur- 
gency I could in the words. 

An hour later we sat on a park bench in Sheridan Square 
in the Village. Wordlessly, I handed him the paper and 
pointed out the item to him. 

He read the article thoughtfully and then put the paper 
down on the bench. His face was noncommittal. 

“It shouldn’t have been done,” he commented at last. 
“That’s the trouble with dealing with those hot-headed 
Mexicans. They go off and act on impulse.” 

I was weak with relief. More than I realized, I had been 
worried and fearful that Yasha had been mixed up in this 
murder. Obviously, judging from what he said, he not only 
had had nothing to do with it, but he did not condone it. 

Later on I realized ironically that I had completely mis- 
understood his words. He was condemning not the murder 


but the bungling job the killers had done. For, as time 
showed me, Jacob Golos was one of the Russian Secret 
Police men who were assigned to engineer the assassination 
of Leon Trotsky. The murder of Robert Sheldon Harte, 
Trotsky’s personal guard, had occurred in an abortive at- 
tempt to get the Russian ex-revolutionary himself. Another 
attempt was more successful. Several months after this a 
G.P.U. killer who was thought for some time to be a mem- 
ber of a rival Trotskyite faction, was apprehended a few 
minutes after he had plunged an alpenstock into Trotsky’s 
brain. What Yasha thought about this latter murder I never 
learned from him. But Harte’s death, because of our con- 
tacts with the assassins, came close to home and he was 
instant with his directions. 

“Break off all connections with Rose immediately,” he 
snapped, “and stay away from that neighborhood. This 
thing’s too hot.” 

“But she’s expecting me tonight,” I protested, “and she’s 
in trouble.” 

“We can’t take a chance,” he said. “She’s probably under 
suspicion already, being Luis’s wife. Maybe he’s even hid- 
ing out there. I just hope she doesn’t go to pieces and talk 
too much.” 

The words sounded callous but I realized he was 
right. What happened to an individual Communist was un- 
important compared to the welfare of the Party. Certainly 
I had seen Yasha go through hell for his convictions. 

All that spring before Harte’s death, World Tourists had 
continued steadily downhill and Yasha finally accepted the 

Yet he still had his dreams and he meant to make them 

[ 122 ] 

come true. One night in the summer of 1 940 he came to my 
apartment with some typewritten sheets. 

“Here is a plan I drew up in 1932,” he said. “Read it and 
see what you think of it.” 

The project called for an agency to handle all the pas- 
senger and freight traffic between this country and the So- 
viet Union. Yet, unlike the Amtorg Trading Corporation, 
a Russian commercial agency that handled all the Soviet 
business interests in the United States, it was to be an Amer- 
ican outfit, run not by Russians but by Americans. It 
sounded interesting and I said so. 

“This should have been done a long time ago,” he de- 
clared. “The Amtorg’s been too long in sole control of all 
business relations between this country and the Soviet 
Union. And they’ve certainly messed things up. They’re 
inefficient. They don’t know the least thing about modern 
American business methods and they’ve done nothing but 
antagonize the decent businessmen over here.” 

I looked surprised and said, “But I thought that Commu- 
nists, no matter from what country they come, would make 
it a point to do a good job.” 

“Most of them aren’t Communists,” he pointed out 
acridly. “They are riffraff and remnants of the old Czarist 
regime. When you’re building up a new society, you have 
to work with what you have. We picked them because they 
had been in private enterprise over there before the Revo- 
lution and we thought they knew more about business than 
we did.” 

He got up from his chair and paced the floor. 

“I had hoped to use World Tourists as the base for this 
new organization,” he continued. “But we’re too well 

[ 123 ] 

smeared now. Therefore, we’ll have to set up a completely 
new outfit. I’ve talked to Earl Browder and he says that the 
Party’s Finance Committee will put up the money to get 
it started. Now, we need an ultrarespectable businessman, 
with good connections, to head the thing. I’m going to 
work on that now.” 

Sometime in the fall of 1940 he came in a jubilant mood 
to see me. 

“Earl’s found just the right man,” he said happily. “His 
name is John Hazard Reynolds and he lives in a swank 
apartment up on Fifth Avenue, in the sixties. Good old 
American family, Social Registerite, moves in the top cir- 
cles, both social and business. He himself has a fair income 
but his wife has a million. Reynolds was a Wall Street 
broker but got out before the 1929 crash and doesn’t seem 
to have done much of anything else since. He’s getting a 
little tired of the life of leisure and would like to get into 
some business.” 

“Do you mean to say he would run a business for the 
Communist Party?” I asked in amazement. 

“Certainly,” Yasha replied. “He’s a radical from way 
back. Spoke on a platform with Scott Nearing, the old 
Communist propagandist, around 1919. He’s a contributor 
to the Party and one of the three angels of our publication 
Soviet Russia Today. In fact, that’s how we happened to 
find him. Ted Bayer, the managing editor of that magazine, 
recommended him.” 

“When do you start? ” 

“Just as soon as we can find one of our own men to han- 
dle the practical operation of the business. Reynolds isn’t 
much of a businessman and, anyway, we wouldn’t trust 

1 124] 

him that far. We just want him for a front guy to give the 
proper tone to the enterprise.” 

“Does he know that? ” I queried. 

“No, and he won’t. He’s been told that he will be in com- 
plete charge of the whole agency. I don’t think he’ll object 
to our sending someone in to do the real work. He’s the 
sort of person who likes to sit behind a desk and look im- 

Two weeks later, Yasha dropped in for dinner and sat 
down dejectedly in a chair. 

“I’m getting discouraged about this idea,” he said. “In 
addition to being temperamental, Reynolds is a complete 
snob and he won’t accept any of the men we’ve suggested 
because they don’t have the proper background. Would 
you like the job?” 

“Me?” I said in amazement. “But why?” 

“Because,” he explained, “you have the sort of back- 
ground he would go for — New England family, Vassar 
education, and so forth. You had a lot of experience with 
your father in department stores and you’ve been working 
in various New York businesses. I’ll teach you everything 
I know about the field, and then with my coaching and 
some good, hard work I think you can swing the job. What 
do you say?” 

“I’d love it,” I said enthusiastically. “That is, if you think 
I can do it.” 

“Good,” he said and smiled. “But remember that you will 
have to sell yourself to Reynolds on your own merits. I 
can’t force you on him.” 

In November, Yasha called me over to his office during 
my lunch hour and introduced me to John H. Reynolds, a 


tall, lean man in his early fifties, with fading reddish hair and 
a prominent nose. From his carefully matching tie and 
breast-pocket handkerchief to his expensive-looking shoes, 
he was impeccably dressed. His slightly arrogant manner 
and his accent said loudly Park Avenue, the Racket Club, 
and the Plaza. 

We talked for about an hour. Three weeks later he tele- 
phoned me and asked if I would meet him at the Vanderbilt 
Hotel. We lunched and finally he got to the point and asked 
me if I would accept the position of vice president in the 
new firm. With secret amusement and feeling very much 
like the cat that had swallowed the canary, I was properly 
overcome but accepted. 

During the next two months, negotiations with Intourist, 
the Soviet agency in Moscow which handled all such pack- 
age shipments, went on at a slow pace. Although Yasha ap- 
parently had contacts in the Soviet Consulate in New York 
who had great influence in Moscow, the Intourist people 
obviously were determined to force upon us a one-sided 
deal and refused to give an inch. Reynolds, accustomed to 
having his own way, was getting more and more annoyed. 
This fact, combined with the Russians’ mulishness, had by 
now gotten Yasha thoroughly angry. 

“I’ll put the screws on them,” he told me, “and see if we 
can’t break the deadlock. They’re just a bunch of traders.” 

Meanwhile, at least the routine arrangements for setting 
up the business were progressing. Earl Browder gave Reyn- 
olds $15,000 in bills as initial capital for the enterprise. 
Reynolds split this sum five ways and very cautiously made 
deposits in five different banks so that he might cover up the 
fact that he had been receiving money from the Communist 


During this period I continued at my advertising job and 
spent my nights and week ends at World Tourists, where 
Yasha explained to me how the package business operated. 
Although the ultimate goal of the new business was to han- 
dle all freight and passenger traffic to the U.S.S.R., the cur- 
rent war situation in Europe made it necessary for us to 
start on a small scale, handling only the shipment of parcels 
containing food, clothing, and medicine to individuals in the 
Soviet Union. 

I read innumerable files and documents and learned the 
practical aspects of the business so fully that I could make 
up a package and wrap it myself and type a Soviet import 
license on a Russian typewriter. Late at night I would wea- 
rily drag myself home and fall into bed. But somehow I 
didn’t mind the fatigue. I was enthusiastic about the new 
business and I wanted to be qualified to do a real job. 

The only thing that worried me then was Yasha’s health. 
The strange pains on the left side of his chest had disap- 
peared after the trial was over but seemingly were bother- 
ing him again. He never mentioned them, but every so often 
he would suddenly put his hand over his heart. One night 
he arrived very late, his face ashen, walked slowly over to 
the couch, and leaned back against the cushions. I was im- 
mediately frightened and rushed over to him. 

“I’m afraid there’s something wrong with my heart,” he 
said shakily. “While with Earl Browder tonight on the 
street, I suddenly couldn’t get my breath. I leaned up against 
a building and fought for a half hour before I could even 

I sat beside him and held on to his cold hands in a sudden 
wave of panic. 

“You must go see a doctor right away.” 

[ «27 I 

“There’s no use,” he shook his head sadly. “I spent four 
years in medical school myself and I know.” 

Long after he had fallen asleep, I sat up worrying about 
him. Somehow I had to get him to a doctor. Obviously, 
insisting that he go wouldn’t work. 

I was pondering this problem one night when Yasha 
came up, his arms laden with packages of documents. “Not 
long ago the Dies Committee raided our offices,” he an- 
nounced. “Needless to say, I’ve had my lesson and they 
didn’t find anything. However, I’ve decided that it’s foolish 
to keep all this material around, even though it’s in a 
fairly safe hiding place. We’ll bum it up in your fireplace. 
I’m living in a cheap hotel now and there’s no place to de- 
stroy it there.” 

He opened the packages and spilled the contents onto the 
floor. As he did so, I threw them piece by piece on the fire. 
There were sheaves of what seemed to be reports in English 
and Russian, and then I discovered to my great surprise a 
heap of red passports stamped with the official seal of the 
United States of America. 

“Why are you throwing away perfectly good pass- 

“They’re not genuine,” he answered absently, as he rifled 
through a batch of documents. “World Tourists sent a lot 
of Americans to Spain to fight during the Civil War and 
they all traveled on fake passports.” 

I nodded and methodically tore the covers off the pass- 
ports, ripped the pages out, and tossed them into the fire- 
place. Then as I gathered up another bunch of papers, a 
small folder fell out and dropped at my feet. I picked it up 
and casually looked at it. On the inside cover was a pic- 
ture of Yasha evidently taken many years earlier; on the 


right was some printing in Russian. With my meager knowl- 
edge of the language I could only make out his name in Rus- 
sian characters and “G.P.U.” Beneath was the date 1925. 

I thought to myself that the initials were vaguely famil- 
iar. Hadn’t I heard many years before that the G.P.U. was 
some sort of Russian terrorist organization? Unfortunately, 
in my pre-Party days I had had absolutely no interest in his- 
tory or current affairs; I hadn’t even cared about reading 
the newspapers. And after I had become a member of the 
Communist Party, quite naturally I would never have 
learned anything about the G.P.U. — the one organization, 
I found out later, that was never mentioned in Party cir- 
cles under any circumstances. Otherwise I would have 
known, as many non-Communist Americans did by that 
time, that the G.P.U. was the dreaded Russian Secret Po- 
lice, a far more ruthless group than Hitler’s famous Gestapo 
ever was. So, puzzled, I forgot I should not ask questions 
and held the card out to Yasha. 

“What’s this?” 

He looked at it for a moment in silence, tossed it on the 
burning heap in the fireplace, then picked up the poker to 
stir the half-burned papers so they would catch fire more 

“It’s just an identity card,” he said, without looking at 
me. “I was in Russia after the Revolution, and as part of 
my work I was a member of the police force. We were 
issued those cards so that we could identify ourselves and 
get free rides on trains and buses.” 

Fully accepting this explanation, I resumed my work at 
the fireplace. I did think to myself that my memory must 
be very unreliable — certainly Yasha, who was born and 
brought up there, ought to know all about Russia. 

[ 129 1 

By the last days of January 1941 Yasha’s pressure on his 
Russian contacts was beginning to produce results and In- 
tourist was ready to deal with us on a fair business basis. 
The starting capital was larger than we had expected, for 
at the last minute Reynolds had decided to add $5,000 of his 
own to the Party’s $15,000. 

Reynolds and I finally found a good office on the nine- 
teenth floor of 212 Fifth Avenue, where we had a fine view 
of the Hudson River over to the New Jersey shore. We 
signed the lease and, anxious to get started, moved into a 
bare office next door while the alterations were being made. 
Before we did, however, Yasha told me he had some Party 
work for me to do. 

“Up till now you’ve had only the Penguin to take care 
of,” he said. “Now you’ll have to take on some additional 
undercover contacts.” The Penguin was one of the “odd 
jobs” that I had at the time. His real name was Abe Broth- 
man and he was a chemical engineer who, because of his 
usefulness to the underground, had been removed from his 
Communist Party unit and put in direct contact with Yasha. 
The previous spring I had been introduced to him, and 
from then on it had been my job to meet Abe periodically 
and collect the blueprints which he had painstakingly got- 
ten together. Since Abe seemed constitutionally unable to 
be on time for his appointments and often kept me waiting 
on street corners in the cold or rain, I heaved a sigh of relief 
when, in September 1941, I was told to turn him over to 
someone else. Who the new contact was I didn’t know at 
the time; it was only in the summer of 1950 that I discov- 
ered that he had been taken over by Harry Gold, who was 
convicted of espionage in December 1950 and sentenced to 

[ 13°] 

thirty years. Brothman is now serving a seven-year sentence 
in the federal penitentiary for obstruction of justice. 

Yasha now explained that he would soon introduce me 
to Mary Price, a Communist of many years’ standing. She 
was a charter member, under the name of Mary Watkins, 
of the United Office and Professional Workers of America 
and then was Washington secretary of the well-known 
writer and columnist Walter Lippmann. Yasha said Mary 
had told him that Lippmann had very interesting material in 
his files on inside politics in the American government 
which Yasha felt the Party should have. She belonged to an 
old American family, was born in Greensboro, North Car- 
olina, and Southerners were the last people to be suspected 
of being Communists. Yasha added that this background 
made her perfect for undercover work. 

That evening, at Schrafft’s on Fifth Avenue and 13th 
Street, Yasha and I had dinner with Mary, a brunette of av- 
erage height, slender, attractive but not pretty, with steady, 
cool eyes. After we had gone over all the ins and outs of 
the situation, it was decided I would go to Washington once 
a month to pick up any material she had. She on her part 
would come up to New York once a month. Our traveling 
expenses would be paid by the Party. This meant that the 
information would be coming through every two weeks. 

On my first visit to Washington I spent Saturday and 
Sunday with Mary in the charming old Georgetown house 
she shared with two other girls, both of them fellow com- 
rades who worked in the American government. Mr. Lipp- 
mann was away just then, presumably on business, and it 
was decided that Mary would go through his back files and 
bring home all the “interesting” stuff so we could make 


copies of it. For two days we typed madly until our backs 
ached, and we somehow managed to finish everything. 
Then Mary returned the files to the office, and I tucked the 
copies into my briefcase and returned with them to New 
York. Yasha was delighted with the haul. 

“That’s excellent material,” he said happily. 

Soon after, the U.S. Service & Shipping Corporation, our 
new firm, was installed in permanent offices, and they were 
elegant ones, befitting the exalted position Reynolds con- 
sidered he occupied. He had ordered the most expensive 
furniture available, beautiful linen paper had been put on 
the walls of the private offices, and he had even brought 
down some of his mother’s antique furniture, including a 
love seat for his office and some shaky-legged tables — defi- 
nitely not utilitarian and of questionable beauty. Yasha eyed 
all this grandeur with contempt. 

“All it needs is lace curtains,” he said scornfully, when 
Reynolds was out of hearing. 

He was even more appalled the morning Reynolds came 
down with a tremendous oil painting of one of his ancestors 
who, as he pompously pointed out, had been the first elected 
mayor of New York. In silence, we watched while Reyn- 
olds proudly put it on the wall. 

“That’s my great-grandfather hanging there,” he de- 
clared with an air of superiority. 

Yasha could stand it no longer. “My great-grandfather 
was hanged, too,” he said thoughtfully, “but under slightly 
different circumstances.” 

Yet Yasha tolerated Reynolds acting the aristocrat, be- 
cause obviously he was a perfect front for the business. He 
was well known and respected in the Chase National Bank 
where we did business; he hired a socially top-notch firm 


of accountants; his lawyers were apparently impeccable. 
So impressed was the State Department by his eminent re- 
spectability that they told us we didn’t have to register as 
“foreign agents” even though we did have a contract with 
a subdivision of the Soviet government. Moreover, as a 
subagent of the U.S. Service, World Tourists was being 
rehabilitated. Since it no longer had any direct connection 
with the Soviet government, it was permitted to withdraw 
its registration as a “foreign agent.” The former “red” taint 
seemed to be disappearing in the minds of the general pub- 
lic. Old customers returned in droves to send packages and 
the future looked good. 

With all these preoccupations, I had little time to worry 
about Yasha’s health, but I was brought up short late in 
March. Yasha had another attack; he couldn’t get his breath 
and I decided that something drastic had to be done about 
getting him to a doctor. At last I realized he was procras- 
tinating because he really didn’t want to know the truth 
about his condition. I hit on a ruse. 

“I’m going up to see my sinus specialist,” I told him. 
“Why don’t you come along and see him, too? I think all 
that’s the matter with you is a bad bronchial condition.” 

Somewhat reassured, he drove up to 64th Street with me 
and was ushered into the doctor’s office. I sat down on a 
chair in the comfortable waiting room. Outside, a cold 
March rain was lashing against the windows and the wind 
was howling like a lost soul. I shivered a little, in spite of 
the warmth of the room, and lit a cigarette. Twelve years 
before, almost to the day, while a storm raged outside, I had 
sat in a similar waiting room and stared unseeingly at a pic- 
ture on the wall. Inside the hospital somewhere my mother 
lay on an operating table. Then the doctor, grave faced but 


kindly, had appeared and told me gently there was no 

A sudden sense of panic now gripped me. I sprang to my 
feet and began to pace the floor. Was that same pattern of 
death going to be repeated? Was I again going to lose the 
only person I loved? The door opened and Yasha walked 
out, followed by the doctor. 

He looked very grave. “I’m afraid Mr. Golos has an ex- 
tremely bad heart condition, technically called arterioscle- 
rosis,” he said. “However, I think we’ve caught it in time, 
and if he takes very good care of himself he may live for 
some time yet.” 

Numbly, we walked out of the office and got into the car. 

“I’m not very hungry,” Yasha said after a while, “but I 
suppose we ought to eat.” 

We stopped off at a cafeteria and ate halfheartedly in si- 
lence. Then we drove on home. I closed the door of the 
apartment behind me and threw the keys on the table. 
Yasha had sat down on the couch with his coat and hat still 
on. I moved over beside him, trying to pull myself together, 
trying not to give way to my emotions. Suddenly, with a 
gesture of desperation, he threw his arms around me and 
held on as though I were the only stable thing in a world 
that was crashing around him. 

“This is the end,” he said. 

“No, of course it isn’t,” I said reassuringly, holding him 
very tight. “It only means that you’ve got to take better 
care of yourself. There will be many years ahead for us.” 

But even as I said it, I knew with the awful feeling of 
finality that this really was the end. Yasha was a revolution- 
ary and he would keep on driving himself, no matter what 
his physical condition was. Someday soon I would lose him. 

[ *34 ] 

Things went along quite as usual until May, when Yasha 
suddenly walked into my office one day and closed the 
door. He put a folded copy of the New York Times in 
front of me and pointed to an article. 

The story, with picture, stated that a Russian engineer by 
the name of Ovakimian had just been taken into custody 
by the F.B.I. on charges of espionage. I looked at Yasha in- 

“That’s the man I’ve been in contact with,” he said som- 
berly, “although I didn’t know his name until I saw it in the 
paper. Now I’m afraid we’re in the soup.” 

I still couldn’t quite get my bearings. 

“But you aren’t mixed up in Russian espionage,” I said 
dazedly, and then, seeing the look on his face, “You mean, 
you are?” 

“I thought you knew,” he said in some surprise. “I am a 
member of the G.P.U., that is the Russian Secret Police. We 
are responsible for doing intelligence work for the Soviet 
Union all over the world. That man whose picture you see 
in the paper is my superior officer.” 

I stared at him in silence, wondering why I hadn’t 
guessed all this long before. I had had all the pieces of the 
puzzle in my hands: Yasha’s contacts with members of the 
Canadian and Mexican Communist Parties, his G.P.U. card, 
his friends at the Soviet Consulate, his influence in obtaining 
our contract with Intourist so easily. I had just taken all 
these things for granted as they came, one by one, and had 
not stopped to put them together. And now I found that I 
wasn’t too shocked by this revelation. After all, Yasha had 
been born in Russia, had lived there for many years and, 
despite his American citizenship, still felt that he owed his 
primary allegiance to that country. 


“Then all this information we are gathering is going to 
the Russians?” I asked. 

“Why not?” he demanded. “They certainly need it, and 
we need to help the one Communist country that exists in 
the world if we are to achieve a new social order in this 
country. Moreover, it’s not just going to the Soviet Union. 
The information is filtered out in Moscow and what is use- 
ful to other Communist parties is sent on to them. Re- 
member the Soviet Union is our spiritual Fatherland, our 
one hope for a new world society, and we should assist her 
in any way possible.” Yes, I thought, that is true. But I was 
worried about Yasha. 

“Are you going to be involved in all this?” I asked anx- 

“I’m afraid I am,” he said thoughtfully. “I wouldn’t be 
surprised if the F.B.I. agents turned up on my doorstep. 
That’s why from now on we’ll have to be very careful. 
I don’t want to lead them to you. And for heaven’s sake, 
don’t let Reynolds know that anything is wrong. He’d fall 
apart at the seams.” 

A few days later the taxi driver who had a regular 
stand in front of the World Tourists building and who had 
driven Yasha on numerous occasions came up to see him. 

“A couple of agents from the F.B.I. questioned me the 
other day,” he said. “They wanted to know where I had 
let you out the other day, the time you went up to Seventh 
Avenue and 34th Street. I thought you’d like to know.” 

Yasha thanked the man for his kindness and rushed over 
to see me. 

“They’re after me, as I feared,” he said grimly. “And they 
may very well have found you, too. Be very careful in the 
future. Watch to see if you’re being tailed and be sure 

[ 13 6 3 

you’ve thrown off any surveillance before you go to see 
Mary or Bob or the Penguin.” 

“But what do I do?” I said in a panic. 

“Just keep your head, appear casual, and don’t let them 
know you’ve noticed them,” he said soothingly. “Then after 
an appropriate interval dash onto a subway when the doors 
are closing, or else find a building with more than one exit. 
Go in one way and out the other.” 

I shook my head dubiously. It was one thing to read about 
dodging pursuit, as all the heroes in the murder mysteries 
did, and another to find that you had to do it yourself. 

He patted my shoulder gently. “Don’t worry,” he reas- 
sured me. “You’ll do all right.” Unconvinced, I watched him 
go out of the office and close the door. 

A few nights later on, Reynolds invited Yasha and me up 
to his house for dinner. We left my office late and as we 
reached the lobby of the building we saw two men, one 
standing at each exit. There was no doubt as to who they 
were, for the building at that hour was always completely 
deserted. My stomach seemed to turn upside down and I 
realized we were trapped. There was no other way out. 

“They’ve followed me here,” Yasha said to me out of the 
comer of his mouth. “I don’t want to take them up to 
Reynolds, so go on ahead without me and I’ll get rid of 
them and come later.” 

For the next hour I sat over cocktails with the Reyn- 
oldses, my nerves in tight knots, trying very hard to appear 
nonchalant and not show my anxiety. The hands of the 
clock seemed to crawl as I kept saying, “He’ll be here any 
moment,” and hoped that it was true. Suppose he had a 
heart attack from all this excitement? Just as the Reynoldses 
were becoming unbearably impatient at holding up din- 

1 137] 

ner, Yasha walked in. He gave me a brief nod as if to say, 
“All is well,” and sat down. 

My turn was to come next. On the heels of this occur- 
rence I had my first experience at being tailed. I had an ap- 
pointment that night with Bob Miller, editor of the pro- 
Communist Latin- American newsletter The Hemisphere, 
in New York City. Yasha was to join us later. As I left 
World Tourists, where I had been conferring with him, I 
noticed it was getting late, so when I walked out of the 
lobby into Broadway I quickened my steps. Then I stopped 
very suddenly. The street as usual at that hour was deserted 
except for two young men, one on either side of the next 
corner, where they could effectively block my progress up 
Broadway. My heart felt as if it had stopped. This was it! 

With terror, I realized that I was carrying, carefully 
wrapped in a newspaper, a package of documents to be re- 
turned to Bob. What should I do? I pulled myself together 
and casually walked past the men and into a candy store, 
intending to phone Yasha and warn him what had hap- 
pened. As I dropped my nickel into the slot I saw one of 
my pursuers slip into the adjoining booth. The walls were 
too thin, I realized at once, and so I dropped the receiver 
back on the hook and walked out into the street. 

My knees were shaking and a cold sweat was breaking 
out on me. I tried desperately to think what to do. If I re- 
turned to World Tourists I would let my pursuers know 
that I suspected I was being tailed — something I had been 
told not to do. Blindly, I headed up Broadway and then 
thought of a plan. The Pennsylvania Station was not far 
away. One could enter the Ladies’ Room there from the 
upper waiting room, go down the stairs, and then leave on 
the lower level. 


With seeming nonchalance, I walked through the door 
marked “Ladies,” automatically noticing that my “tails” 
were still behind me, then made a frantic dash down the 
stairs and out the lower exit. No one seemed to be behind 
me. Still not satisfied, I walked over to the Public Library 
on 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, went in one door and out 
another. I appeared to have lost my pursuers but I didn’t 
dare take any chances on meeting Bob. Wearily I took a bus 
home, figuring that Yasha would call me there when I 
didn’t show up at the restaurant. 

As I sat on the couch waiting for the telephone to ring, 
I gradually stopped trembling and I could feel the blood re- 
turning to my face. Then quite suddenly an intense wave of 
anger swept over me. What right had these people to per- 
secute us like that? Yasha was right. They were no better 
than the brutal old Russian Cossacks. Now the chips were 
down and it was they or I. I said to myself quite savagely 
that if the F.B.I. thought it was going to find out anything 
from me it had another think coming. 

I drew a deep breath and with a pang of nostalgia I real- 
ized that the good old days were over. Now I was one of 
the hunted, and no matter where I went, the footsteps of 
the hunters would be hot behind me. Although I was not 
aware of it, this was the last thing needed to make me a 
completely “steeled Bolshevik.” 


Inuring the next two or three months I became quite 
accustomed to the F.B.I.’s almost constant surveillance, 
and I began to accept it as a game played for high stakes. I 
must learn its rules and think and act as unemotionally as 
possible. Coolly, I studied the techniques used by the F.B.I. 
agents. With Yasha’s help I mastered all the old under- 
ground methods and even devised newer and better ways 
of outwitting them. I soon discovered that the Bureau 
agents were all long-legged, athletic young men whom I 
could not outrun; I had to rely on strategy. In a very short 
space of time I had developed an incredible number of 
ruses: running in and out of buildings with more than one 
exit; walking up to the “tail” and asking his help in finding 
a street address, which always seemed to disconcert him; 
going to a movie and sneaking out the fire exit; sometimes 
even changing direction abruptly and following the erst- 
while pursuer. Eventually I acquired that strange sixth sense 
of danger common to all the hunted, for I could, as we used 
to say, “smell trouble in the air,” but I never left anything 
to chance. Whenever I was to meet a Communist contact, 
I spent at least a half hour methodically checking and re- 
checking to be sure I was not under surveillance. Often 
Yasha and I would use the “double tail” method: I would 

[ 14° 1 

leave the office first, he would follow a few minutes later 
and stay a block behind me. If he determined to his satisfac- 
tion that the coast was clear, he would speed up and pass 
me, blowing his nose loudly on his handkerchief; if he 
found that I was being followed, he would continue to trail 
along. I used to think wryly that we must make a very odd 
procession going down the street — first me, then the F.B.I., 
then Yasha. 

Strangely enough, I could never manage to work up any 
particular animus against the agents who were tailing me. 
They were just a group of hard-working young men as- 
signed to this detail — too bad they were on the wrong side 
of the fence. Perhaps the strongest emotion I ever felt was 
sheer annoyance; they always managed to turn up in hot, 
muggy weather when I was tired and my feet hurt or else 
on stormy days when I had forgotten to bring my um- 
brella to the office. After one long trek in the rain in order 
to shake them off, I complained bitterly to Yasha that the 
feathers on my brand-new hat had been completely ruined. 

“Why don’t you send a bill to J. Edgar Hoover?” he sug- 
gested cheerfully. “He ought to be willing to buy you a 
new hat.” 

Yet, in spite of our jesting, neither of us underestimated 
the force that was pitted against us, and we took what 
might seem ridiculous precautions to protect ourselves and 
our organization. We were convinced that our telephones 
were being tapped, hence our conversations over the wire 
were purely business ones. Every so often a Communist 
electrician would check the walls of Yasha’s office, inch by 
inch, to make sure that no dictaphones had been planted. 
To be doubly secure we never talked there unless the radio 
was turned on or one of us sat and continually jiggled the 

[ I 4 I ] 

telephone receiver to break any sound waves that might be 
picked up by a hidden microphone. In general, we made it a 
policy not to keep too many incriminating documents in 
our possession. Those which it was absolutely necessary to 
preserve were carefully placed in the World Tourists safe 
(only Yasha and I had the combination), and a complicated 
set of booby traps was rigged up to insure against tamper- 
ing. Any other dangerous papers were immediately de- 
stroyed after reading — we tore them into small pieces and 
burned them little by little in a large metal ashtray on 
Yasha’s desk. I am sure his secretary was considerably puz- 
zled by what was going on. More than once, alarmed by 
the smell of smoke, she dashed into his private office to find 
both of us calmly stirring a flaming mass in the ash tray. 

In the latter part of June 1941 the worst blow of all fell 
— Germany attacked the Soviet Union. White-faced, Yasha 
and I were listening to the news bulletins pour in over the 
radio: the Soviet forces were retreating before the German 
onslaught. Suddenly Yasha switched off the radio and nerv- 
ously paced the floor in the form of a square, six feet one 
way, six feet the other. With an awful feeling of terror, I 
remembered he had learned that habit in prison, where the 
cell space was limited, and only reverted to it when he was 
extremely agitated. Yasha sat down on the couch opposite 
me, his face cold and set. 

“This is the final showdown,” he said in a tone that 
frightened me. “Our Fatherland has been attacked and the 
future of all Communism lies in the balance. Over there our 
comrades are being ruthlessly slaughtered; over here we 
must work night and day, without any thought of rest, un- 
til the Fascist beasts have been wiped out.” 

I sat watching him silently, realizing with a sick pain in 

[ 14 2 ] 

my heart that this was the end of any personal future we 
might have planned. 

Almost immediately, with the precision of a well- 
thought-out plan, Yasha received his instructions from the 
Russian police. Late one night, as I was curled up on the 
couch reading a book, I heard his key in the lock. He came 
in and sat beside me wordlessly. 

“What’s the matter?” I asked, wondering what had hap- 
pened to make him so preoccupied that he had even forgot- 
ten to kiss me. He smiled then and put his arms around 

“I’m sorry to be so absent-minded,” he said, holding me 
very close. “It’s just that I had a long conference this eve- 
ning with my contact Charlie, and I was still thinking 
over the orders he transmitted to me.” 

“What does he think about the war?” I asked interest- 

Yasha frowned. “He’s worried. Right now the Soviet 
forces are taking the full brunt of a terrific land offensive. 
They’re short of materiel and no one knows how much 
help, if any, the United States government is going to give. 
Perhaps Great Britain and the United States will sell the So- 
viet Union down the river to save their own skins. And 
even if the United States adopts the official policy of aiding 
the Soviets in their war effort, there is a powerful Fascist 
clique in the government that can — and will — effectively 
sabotage any help that is being given.” 

“Then it’s completely hopeless,” I said, wishing passion- 
ately that we could run away to some quiet spot and forget 
all about world problems. 

“Not at all,” he reassured me. “It only means that we 
have a difficult task before us. Moscow must be kept com- 

1 143 ] 

pletely informed about what is going on behind the scenes 
in the American government so that she can be prepared to 
forestall any treachery. That’s where we come in. I have 
received orders to get as many trusted comrades as possible 
into strategic positions in United States government agen- 
cies in Washington, where they will have access to secret 
and confidential information that can be relayed on to the 
Soviet Union.” 

He paused for a moment and then, looking at me ten- 
derly, went on: “I hate to ask you to get mixed up in all this. 
It’s going to be a very dangerous job. I do need your help 
because for many reasons it is going to be practically impos- 
sible for me to go to Washington, and you could see these 
people for me. Unfortunately I am torn between anxiety 
over you and my duty to the cause. Therefore, I am putting 
it up to you. Knowing all the risks involved, are you still 
willing to go on with me?” 

Thoughtfully I looked at him, and for the first time the 
full impact of the situation hit me: we were now engaged 
in a total, all-out struggle that would determine the fate of 
the world. Yasha, with his usual single-mindedness of pur- 
pose, had unhesitatingly accepted his orders; why then 
should I waver? Through my mind flashed the words of 
the Communist Internationale — “ ’Tis the final conflict; let 
each stand in his place” — and I realized all at once that never 
before had I completely understood their meaning. Hereto- 
fore, like most American Communists, I had been playing at 
being a revolutionary; now I was about to become one in 
dead earnest. I found, with a strange detachment, that I 
was not frightened. I had made my choice and I would stick 
to it. 

“Of course,” I answered quietly. 

[ *44 ] 

Looking as if a great load had fallen from his shoulders, 
Yasha kissed me very gently. “I thought that would be 
your answer, golubishka.” 

In my preoccupation with vital issues, I had forgotten 
what a terrific effect the war would have on our business. 
Very soon, however, I became aware that we were in for 
a bad time. Not only would no one ship any parcels to 
the U.S.S.R. in the midst of active warfare, especially when 
the Russians were retreating, but we might have difficulties 
with the shipments that had already gone out. 

While we were going through this hectic business period, 
I took on an additional duty as an undercover agent. Wor- 
ried about his health and the continued presence of the 
F.B.I., Yasha thought it wise to have an alternate channel 
of communication with the Russian Secret Police; hence, I 
was “introduced” to an intermediary through whom mes- 
sages could be sent. Our first meeting was meticulously pre- 
arranged, since even Yasha was not to be allowed to know 
who my contact was. Carefully, I was given written in- 
structions which I was to memorize and destroy: I was to 
be in front of a drugstore on Ninth Avenue in the Fifties 
at twelve noon; a man carrying a copy of Life magazine 
would walk up to me and say: “I am sorry to have kept you 
waiting,” and I was to reply: “No, I haven’t been waiting 
long.” But if, after twenty minutes, no one appeared, I was 
to leave and return at the same time the following day. Un- 
der no circumstances was I to give him any personal infor- 
mation about myself. He was to know me only as Miss 
Wise (a translation of the Russian word umnitsa, which 
means, roughly, “smart gal”). For my part, I was to know 
nothing about him except his code name, which was John. 

My new contact, who appeared promptly at five minutes 

1 H5] 

past twelve, turned out to be a thin, pale, blond young man 
of about my height, who was dressed in badly fitting clothes 
of obviously European make. Indubitably, he had not been 
in this country very long. He had that half-starved look 
so characteristic of new Soviet arrivals, his English was so 
meager I had difficulty in understanding him, and he dis- 
played an astounding ignorance of American life. Indeed, I 
remember with some amusement his stubborn and unshak- 
able belief that American workers were so terrorized by 
the police they had to carry revolvers to the polls on elec- 
tion day. Evidently, too, he had not been too well briefed 
on undercover work in the United States; not long after I 
met him he almost got us into serious difficulties. 

One day the switchboard operator came into my office, 
complaining that there was a Russian on the phone who in- 
sisted on speaking to “Miss Wise.” She had told him firmly 
that there was no such person in the company but he had 
refused to be convinced. With a cold feeling of terror, I 
realized it must be John. Having missed an appointment the 
day before, he was obviously trying to contact me, al- 
though how he knew where I worked was a mystery. What 
should I do? I couldn’t speak to him because that would let 
the office force know that something very odd was going 
on; besides, with the F.B.I. still interested in me, the wires 
might easily be tapped. I thought fast. 

“Don’t be upset,” I said as calmly as I could to the tele- 
phone girl. “Probably some girl who wanted to get rid of 
a wolf gave him the wrong phone number. Just hang up on 

I marched across the street to Yasha’s office, shaking with 
fear and anger. 

[ 14 6 ] 


“What’s going on?” I demanded. “Doesn’t he know bet- 
ter than to do a dangerous thing like that?” 

He shook his head. “He’s still green at the work. I’ll 
have someone give him a talking-to.” 

Before long, however, it became increasingly clear that 
John was too unmistakably Russian for me to be seen with 
him openly. Moreover, he seemed quite unable to detect 
when he was under surveillance. We therefore decided to 
take the Newsreel theaters, of which there are quite a num- 
ber in New York, as our base of operations. According to 
the plan, I was to enter the theater precisely on the hour, 
carrying a small brown attache case containing any infor- 
mation to be passed on, and sit down on the extreme right 
near the back. Ten minutes later he was to take the seat 
next to me, without any sign of recognition, and place an 
identical case on the floor next to mine. After a sufficient 
interval of time had elapsed, I was to pick up his briefcase 
and leave the theater. With this elaborate ritual went an 
equally complicated schedule of times and places that went 
something like this: Tuesday, 8 p.m., theater opposite 
Grand Central Terminal, twenty minutes waiting time; if 
no contact, 9 p.m. same day theater on Times Square, half- 
hour waiting time; if no contact, next day, Wednesday, 
8 p.m., theater at Fiftieth Street and Lexington Avenue, 
waiting time twenty minutes. Inasmuch as this timetable 
changed weekly and had to be committed to memory, it is 
not surprising that two or three times we slipped up and 
arrived at the appointed time in different places. 

During the year and a half that I was to know John, 
he became steadily more Americanized. He bought new 
clothes and his English improved. But he never lost that 

[ *47 1 

tense, frightened air I later learned so characterized the Rus- 
sian Secret Police agents. He seemed almost afraid of his 
own shadow. For no reason at all he would suddenly give 
a nervous start and his hands would begin to shake. At the 
time I attributed all this to a quite understandable fear of the 
F.B.I. I was not then aware that what really terrified him 
was the merciless and inhuman discipline of his own or- 
ganization. One time, quite innocently, I gave him a fright 
which became one of the standing jokes of the Russian Se- 
cret Police. On this occasion, he was the first of us to leave 
the theater, and I noticed that in his agitation he had for- 
gotten to pick up my briefcase. 

“Wait a moment,” I whispered, clutching him by the 
sleeve. “You’ve left your attache case.” 

He turned completely white and the sweat stood out on 
his forehead. With a wild look at me he grabbed the valise 
and bolted out of the theater. “What in the world is the 
matter with him?” I said to myself, and after waiting five 
more minutes to give him time to get out, I went home to 
find Yasha. Puzzled, I told him what had happened and was 
completely nonplussed to see him throw back his head and 
roar with laughter. 

“I’m sorry,” he said after a moment, wiping his eyes. “Of 
course you wouldn’t understand. Quite obviously your man 
is one of the military attaches at the Soviet Embassy. Your 
remark about attache cases upset him because he thought 
you had discovered his identity. Most Russians don’t know 
that briefcases are called attache cases in English.” 

“Oh,” I replied, finally comprehending, yet thinking to 
myself that the Russian Secret Police had a very brutal 
sense of humor. Yet, as I was later to discover, this was very 

[ H 8 1 

typical of their jokes. They seemed to think it excruciat- 
ingly funny when someone was terrified. 

Meanwhile, back in July, although hampered by Earl 
Browder’s absence (he was then still serving his sentence 
for passport fraud in the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, 
Georgia), Yasha had finally made contact with a group 
of Communists who worked for the United States govern- 
ment in Washington, D.C. Jubilantly he came to my office 
one day to announce that he had just had a long and satis- 
factory conference with the leader of the group, who had 
come up to New York. 

“Who is he?” I asked curiously, knowing that I shouldn’t 
ask such a question. But Yasha was quite willing to tell me. 

“His name is Nathan Gregory Silvermaster and I used to 
know him quite well in the Party way back in the early thir- 
ties. He’s a trusted comrade whose record of revolutionary 
activity dates very far back — almost as far as mine.” He 
smiled reminiscently. “You know, he’s a Ukrainian like I 
am. Only, while I was working there for the underground 
he was over in China where his family had taken him after 
a particularly vicious pogrom. Yet he, too, was pulled into 
the movement. Even in his teens he used to help the Bol- 
sheviks smuggle revolutionary literature across the Rus- 
sian border. 

“Not long after World War I he had come to America and 
spent some fifteen years on the West Coast, during which 
time he got his Ph.D. degree in economics, became an 
American citizen, and was a very active member of the 
Party. As a matter of fact, he worked very closely with 
Sam Darcy, who was organizer for California, and during 
the San Francisco general strike in 1933 he hid Earl Brow- 

1 149] 

der in his apartment while the vigilantes were making a 
house-to-house search for him.” 

“But how was he able to get a position in Washington if 
he was such a well-known Communist?” I asked, puzzled. 

“Oh, he was never an open Party member,” Yasha ex- 
plained. “In fact, he was generally known as a very respect- 
able, bourgeois member of society. He always held good, 
solid positions, too. At the time he was protecting Earl, he 
was working for the California State Labor Department, 
and before that he taught for some time in St. Mary’s Col- 
lege, which was a wonderful cover because no one would 
suspect that the Catholics would harbor a Communist.” He 
chuckled at the thought and went on. “With that back- 
ground he was able to get a job with the Farm Security Ad- 
ministration, a subdivision of the Agriculture Department, 
in the mid-thirties and he and Helen moved to Washing- 

I sat amazed at this recital while Yasha enjoyed my be- 

“Then the authorities have never discovered him in all 
these years? ” I asked. 

Yasha smiled. “You mean the American intelligence 
agencies? No, and that was Browder’s doing. He realized 
that Greg would be very useful to us in the future, so 
he told him to lie low and not join any Communist unit in 
Washington. Hence he’s in a very good position now. 
He’s refrained from associating with known Communists 
and he’s been very careful to act respectable and not ex- 
press any radical ideas. Moreover, on Browder’s instruc- 
tions he’s been gathering around him a group of people — 
some Party members, some sympathizers — employed in 

1 15° 1 

sensitive jobs in the government where they will be able to 
collect invaluable information for us.” 

“He sounds like a good person,” I said thoughtfully. 

“He is, and so is his wife Helen, whom you will soon 
meet. Surprisingly enough, she is the daughter of the Rus- 
sian Baltic Baron Witte, who was known in Czarist days 
as the Red Baron because of his Communist sympathies. 
Hence she is very familiar with the workings of the under- 
ground, because in her childhood she helped her father 
hide prominent Bolshevik leaders in their home. Later on 
she married a White Russian nobleman by the name of 
Volkov and had one child, Anatole. However, she quite 
soon divorced her husband and some years after married 
Greg on the West Coast. She is, I might add, a very intelli- 
gent woman and completely trustworthy.” 

He added, “Greg is here in town right now and will stay 
on a few more days. Tomorrow it has been arranged that 
you will go to Washington and make contact with Helen at 
her home. On your return I will report to Greg what hap- 
pened and we can make the final arrangements.” 

“But why do I have to go all the way to Washington to 
see Helen when Greg’s in New York? And what in the 
world do I say to her?” I asked, somewhat confused by this 
odd arrangement. 

He laughed, then became serious. 

“The answer to both questions is very simple. Both Greg 
and Helen, being Russians with a long background in 
the revolutionary movement, are extremely distrustful of 
Americans and would rather not deal with them. I am 
trying to persuade them to accept you as an intermediary. 
Your job is to sell yourself to Helen — make friends with her 


and give her the feeling that you are completely reliable. 
Incidentally, don’t tell her anything at all about yourself. 
Although both the Silvermasters know who I am, because 
of our past acquaintance, it is better for you to remain in- 
cognito. She will know you only as Helen and will have 
your telephone number in case of emergency. Oh, and one 
more thing. Unlike the other American Communists you 
have been dealing with, both Greg and Helen know who 
they are working for and where the information will go. 
So don’t act cagey and arouse her suspicions.” 

It sounded like a tall order. The next day, however, 
found me in Washington on my way to 5515 35th Street, 
N.W. Deliberately, I gave the cab driver a street number 
about a block from my destination, and as I watched him 
drive off I saw that I was in a prosperous, fairly new neigh- 
borhood not far from Chevy Chase Circle. The door of 
5515 was opened by a slight, wiry woman of about forty, 
with dark brown hair done in a knot at the back of her neck 
and rather wary brown eyes set in a face that seemed more 
Polish than Russian. 

“I’m Helen,” I explained. “Greg said you’d be expecting 

“Oh, yes.” The voice had the slightest touch of an accent. 
“Come in.” 

The spacious living room, just off the hall, was cool and 
restful, and as I sat down on the comfortable sofa, with 
Helen opposite me, I found myself liking the casually 
charming way in which it was furnished. With a smile, I 
looked over at her. 

“You have a beautiful home,” I ventured. 

“Do you like it? We made most of the furniture our- 
selves.” Sitting there barelegged, in a cotton print dress and 


red play shoes, she didn’t look like a baroness, yet there was 
an indefinable air of quality in her tone of voice and in the 
way she held her head. We sat and chatted for over an hour. 
She was friendly and gracious, yet somehow distant. Op- 
timistically I hoped that I had made a good impression on 
her, but I had a strong feeling that she was still very suspi- 

A week or so later Yasha informed me that the Silver- 
masters had agreed to accept me as their contact, albeit 
somewhat reluctantly. 

“You’ll have to let them get used to you gradually,” he 
said with a sigh. “Greg is satisfied with the arrangement 
but Helen suspects you of being an undercover agent for 
the F.B.I. We’ve tried to argue her out of that idiocy, but 
she’s the kind of woman who relies heavily on feminine 
intuition and she insists her hunches are invariably right.” 

I laughed ruefully. It was bad enough to spend a good 
share of my time dodging the F.B.I. without being accused 
of working for them. Yet, looking back on the episode 
now, I wonder whether Helen didn’t have a deeper insight 
into human nature than all the rest of us. She sensed in- 
stinctively that I didn’t belong in the Communist move- 

It was arranged that I would go down to Washington 
every two weeks to pick up the Silvermaster material and 
relay instructions on what information was needed. I was 
also to collect the Party dues for the group and bring them 
not only the American Communist literature, as I was do- 
ing with Mary Price, but also Soviet publications, such as 
Pravda, the Bolshevik, and others. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Service had announced that we would 
ship any useful articles to the Soviet fighting forces without 

[ i53 1 

import duty and with minimum freight charge. The response 
was terrific. The heretofore-deserted offices of World 
Tourists were jammed with people — some former custom- 
ers, some left-wingers, and some just ordinary people. They 
brought presents that ranged all the way from vitamin pills 
to shotguns (the latter, of course, for obvious reasons had 
to be rejected). It seemed as though everyone, rich or poor, 
wanted to help the Soviet Union. Even political beliefs 
seemed to have been swept away in the tide of sympathy 
for the besieged Russians. People who bitterly hated the 
Bolshevik regime contributed along with the rest. 

One day I was holding down Yasha’s office in his absence. 
I looked up to see one of our customers who had been send- 
ing parcels regularly to his mother in Moscow. He clicked 
his heels and bowed from the waist. 

“Madame,” he said, looking pathetically threadbare in 
his shabby overcoat with moth-eaten fur collar, “I was a 
colonel in the White Army of the Czar in Russia. I fought 
the Bolsheviks during the Civil War and I shall continue to 
fight them as long as I live. But, Madame, I am a Russian . My 
country is being attacked by the barbarians and the Red 
Army needs help.” He held out a leather case. “Here are 
my binoculars. Please send them to some Soviet Army offi- 
cer who can use them. I am going now to contact all my 
White Army officer friends. They will have equipment 
that will be useful.” 

As I watched him march proudly out of the office, I felt 
a lump in my throat. How he must love his country to give 
his treasured binoculars to his bitterest enemies! He was 
not the only one. During the war about fifty per cent of 
the White Russians all over the world supported the Rus- 
sian cause. In the fall of 1941 Sasha Pogorelsky, the Russian- 

[ U4] 

born husband of one of our employees and an ex- White 
Army man with Communist sympathies, set up an organ- 
ization of White Army officers for the purpose of aiding 
the Red Army. The project was quite successful. I remem- 
ber attending one fund-raising affair held under their 
auspices at the Manhattan Opera House on West 34th Street 
where, to my amazement, Communists and left-wingers 
mingled with the White Russian colony, all united by a 
common purpose. 

Meanwhile, by the end of the summer of 1941 The Hemi- 
sphere was deeply in debt and Yasha suggested to Bob 
Miller that he close down the enterprise and get a job 
somewhere in the United States government. With his ex- 
perience in the Latin-American field, he was soon offered a 
position with the Coordinator of Inter- American Affairs, 
then headed by Nelson Rockefeller. Yasha urged him to 
take it, saying he could give us information that would be 
valuable to the Central Committee of the American Com- 
munist Party. Bob, unhappy over the prospect of under- 
cover work, demurred, saying that the State Department 
regarded him as a Communist (he had quite evidently 
shown his sympathies in Moscow, and the American Em- 
bassy had become aware of the fact) and would probably 
send an unfavorable report on him to the C.I.A.A. After a 
long struggle we finally succeeded in overcoming his ob- 
jections and he accepted a position as head of the political 
research division. Moreover, he was able to sell The Hemi- 
sphere files, carefully expurgated, to the Rockefeller Com- 
mittee for a substantial sum of money. 

Bob and his wife Jennie packed up their belongings, left 
their Knickerbocker Village apartment, and departed for 
Washington, thereby adding yet another person to my list 


of Communist contacts in the United States government. 
That was only the beginning. As time went on, the number 
grew so large that it was almost physically impossible to 
handle. Over a period of many years Yasha had built up a 
series of “look-outs” — people strategically situated in Com- 
munist-front organizations or in the Party itself — through 
whom he could contact Communists who would be useful 
for espionage work. Among these were Grace Granich, 
head of the Intercontinent News Service and sister-in-law 
of Mike Gold, columnist for the Daily Worker; Joseph 
North, editor of the now-defunct New Masses and at pres- 
ent on the Daily Worker; Michael Tkach, editor of the 
Communist-owned Ukrainian Daily News; Avram Landy, 
head of the Party’s work among minorities, and V. J. 
Jerome, head of the theoretical organ of the Party. Both 
Landy and Jerome were behind-the-scenes powers in the 
American movement. With increasing amazement I asked 
Yasha how in the world he had been able to get together so 
many people. He laughed. 

“Very simple. This organization has been built up solidly 
over a period of years and is always ready in case of emer- 
gency. Moreover, I’m only a small part of a vast machine. 
Other agents have the same facilities at their disposal. You 
haven’t forgotten how you met Juliet, Joe, and Marcel, have 

“Then they were part of your organization?” I asked 

“Another branch,” he replied. “Let me explain it to you. 
All Soviet intelligence work outside the U.S.S.R. is handled 
by the N.K.V.D., that is, the People’s Commissariat for 
Internal Affairs. It was formerly known as the G.P.U. The 
N.K.V.D. has several branches, one of which is Military 

[ G 6 1 

Intelligence. We refer to these people in our reports by the 
code name of the ‘neighbors.’ It was to this branch that 
your trio belonged.” 

“Oh,” I said, realizing for the first time what a powerful 
and far-flung network our International had at its com- 
mand. I thought of all the new agents Yasha alone had taken 
on. Multiplied by the number of Soviet agents operating, 
it made a staggering total. Our new world is not too far 
away, I said to myself exultantly. 

Yet, for all our quick expansion, we were not taking on 
new contacts haphazardly. Each new person was thor- 
oughly checked before he was added to the apparatus. The 
Central Control Commission kept detailed dossiers on every 
American Party member — his background, record in the 
movement, weaknesses, and so on. These files were enlarged 
from time to time when the comrade himself or his friends 
added more material. To these records Yasha, as one of the 
three-man Commission, had ready access, and he could 
quite easily find out whether a person was reliable or 
whether he was a bad risk. This latter category included 
people who were ideologically unsound (they periodically 
had doubts about the Party’s position or refused to carry 
out instructions) or those who had grave weaknesses (they 
drank too much, had too many affairs with women or, by 
kinship, friendship or marriage, had too-close ties with anti- 
Communist elements). Not satisfied with the Central Con- 
trol Commission’s information, Yasha would then send an 
inquiry through to Moscow, where the files were much 
more complete, just to be sure that in taking on a new agent 
we were not endangering the organization. 

We were particularly leery about people who were “un- 
stable elements,” people who were weak and would not 

t »57l 

stand up under pressure. For a brief period I contacted a 
young girl, whom I shall call Barbara Landers, a steno- 
typist in the War Production Board, where she had access 
to a certain amount of data. Unfortunately, although her 
record was good, she later became involved in a disappoint- 
ing love affair, which left her weepy and nervous. We 
therefore decided to drop her as a contact and let her return 
to the open Party. This she did, later turning up in the 
“street” unit to which belonged Angela Calomiris, the 
plucky little Greek girl who for seven years worked under- 
cover for the F.B.I. in the Communist movement. 

Perhaps our greatest fear along this line was that an agent 
might crack up and land in a psychiatrist’s office. If we 
detected any indication of such a possibility, he was 
dropped like a hot cake. One case I remember was that of 
a man whom I shall call Harold Sloan, a young Canadian 
whom I contacted for over a year and a half while he was 
working for the Canadian government in Washington. 

He had been sent to us highly recommended for his trust- 
worthiness by Tim Buck and Sam Carr, leaders of the 
Canadian Communist Party, and had a long and excellent 
record as a Party member in Canada, including a period of 
service in the Spanish Civil War. For a long time he func- 
tioned efficiently, giving us information which he obtained 
from his friends in the Canadian Legation. Then he began 
to have trouble with his wife and became moody and nerv- 
ous to the point where he insisted he was going to consult a 
psychiatrist. When it became increasingly evident we could 
not keep him from going to pieces, I was ordered to stop 
contacting him. 

Many of the contacts that we took on as agents were al- 
ready in government service. If they were in positions that 


we considered productive, we left them where they were, 
otherwise we encouraged them to pull strings and move 
into more sensitive agencies. Typical of one of these latter 
cases was J. Julius Joseph from Allentown, Pennsylvania, a 
Communist of long standing, whom we had added to the 
organization in the summer of 1942. After a brilliant career 
in college and afterward as an economist, he went into 
social-security work in the United States government. 

I still remember with amusement the way I was “intro- 
duced” to him. I was to go to his apartment in Washington, 
knock three times, and when he opened the door, recite the 
number of a dollar bill which he had in his possession. 

After I had been working with him for about a year, by 
which time he was holding down an important post in the 
War Manpower Commission, he was due to be drafted. 
Since we would have no use for him in the United States 
Army’s infantry, we suggested that he use his personal 
contacts to get a position in the Office of Strategic Services. 
Joe worked fast and furiously. Although he was inducted 
into the Army and put in basic training, he was fished out 
by the O.S.S. in three weeks’ time and given a job in their 
“hush-hush” Japanese division. Here he was of invaluable 
use to us, not only because he knew in advance of the 
Americans’ plans concerning Japan but because for a period 
he worked in the Library of Congress next door to the con- 
fidential Russian division, whose people trustingly gave him 
all the information that was of interest to us. 

Joe, incidentally, for all his zeal, never seemed to learn 
the correct underground procedure. He was continually 
getting into difficulties that had us alternately worried and 
amused. One famous time, having been told either to burn 
documents or flush them down the toilet, he crammed a 

[ 159] 

mass of flaming papers into the toilet, with the result that 
the seat was set on fire. His puzzled landlord, surveying the 
damage, finally walked out of the apartment, muttering to 
himself, “I don’t see how that could possibly have hap- 

Sometimes we had potential agents who, we thought, 
had the necessary qualifications to secure good positions in 
the United States government, so we sent them down to 
Washington to try their luck. This was not such a difficult 
procedure as it sounds. During the war the American gov- 
ernment expanded quite suddenly to many times its former 
size. As a result, the Civil Service Commission and other 
similar agencies were swamped with work, and many times 
government employees remained in their jobs for as long 
as eighteen months before anyone got around to examining 
their records. Sometimes Yasha and I were actually horri- 
fied at the ease with which notorious, open Communists 
wandered into sensitive departments and obtained positions. 
We lived in terror lest someday one of the American intel- 
ligence agencies would trip over them and in the process 
uncover one of our carefully planted agents. 

One case that comes to my mind was that of Leonard 
Mins, son of a charter member of the American Communist 
Party and a well-known revolutionary, who somehow 
turned up as a Russian interpreter in the O.S.S. J. Julius 
Joseph’s wife, Bella, then working for the O.S.S.’s Movie 
Division, which made confidential films for the use of the 
United States General Staff, met him in the corridor of her 
building and fled in a panic. Years before, she had known 
him quite well; and remembering that he was an open Com- 
munist, she was terrified at being seen with him. Mins, inci- 
dentally, was finally uncovered by the United States gov- 

[ *6o] 

ernment and fired. Nothing daunted, he fought the case for 
several months, then gave up and vanished from sight. At 
the time I complained bitterly to Yasha about the stupidity 
of the Communist movement in allowing Leonard to take 
such a position. He snorted indignantly. 

“I don’t know what is the matter with those people,” he 
said in a rare burst of anger. “Mins is so well known that 
he might just as well go around Washington with the ham- 
mer and sickle painted on his chest and waving a red flag. 
He worked quite openly for the Moscow Daily News over 
there and he’s been used by our organization in the past. 
Worse than that, I know for a fact that the F.B.I. has a col- 
lection of photographs showing him marching in May Day 
parades as a representative of the American Communist 
Party. I’ll send word through to Moscow and tell Bella for 
goodness’ sake to run like hell when she sees him.” 

As we passed from the fall of 1941 through 1942 and into 
the spring of 1943, we added more and more agents to our 
apparatus. Meanwhile, our two businesses were more or 
less drifting along. The shipments of gifts to the Red Army 
had been taken over by the Russian War Relief, who could 
send them in bulk more cheaply than we could, and al- 
though our old customers were returning to send personal 
packages, there were not sufficient of them even to pay our 
expenses. All this alarmed the American Communist Party 
which, having furnished $15,000 as initial capital for the 
U.S. Service & Shipping Corporation, wanted either divi- 
dends on their investment or their money back. Periodically, 
they would send messages to Jack Reynolds, asking for a 
complete financial statement covering the business or de- 
manding that he return some of the cash he had received. 

Yet, even in their anxiety, they were careful to choose a 


suitable messenger — a man whom Jack, with all his snob- 
bery, would accept and deal with. Lemuel Harris, a Com- 
munist of many years’ standing, Moscow trained, was a 
perfect selection. He was the son of a wealthy Wall Street 
broker, came from a good old American family, and had 
known Jack intimately for a number of years. Looking 
back on the situation now, I feel very sorry for Lem. He 
was so pathetically idealistic and naive, and in spite of his 
inside dealings with the Party he never seemed to become 
aware of what an ugly outfit he was mixed up with. 

But Lem had another mission besides that of checking up 
on the financial status of the U.S. Service & Shipping Cor- 
poration. Being assistant to Welwel Wartzover (alias Wil- 
liam Weiner), head of the Party’s Finance Committee, he 
was responsible for collecting money from sympathizers 
and stowing it away in a safe place. For obvious reasons, 
the American Communist Party did not want to put all their 
assets in an account under their own name; they split 
their cash up and gave it to trusted people to keep in 
safe-deposit vaults. Jack Reynolds had one of these reposi- 
tories. From the fall of 1941 on, the U.S. Service’s safety- 
deposit box in the Chase National Bank was filled with 
money belonging to the American Communist Party, in 
amounts ranging through $10,000. Lem would bring the 
money to our office; then either Jack or I would take it 
down to the bank in a sealed envelope and cache it away in 
our box, after having carefully counted the bills to be sure 
there was no discrepancy. 

By the summer of 1942 Jack Reynolds was becoming 
restless at the lack of activity in his business. He spent less 
and less time at the office and finally went back into the 
Finance Corps of the Army (he had served in Washing- 

[ 162 ] 

ton as a major in World War I). In fact, his commission 
was dated December 7, 1942, the anniversary of Pearl Har- 
bor — a fact which he never let us forget. He made a great 
to-do about going to war, fussing loudly about how he was 
about to give his life to his country (even though we all 
knew that at his age and with his lack of front-line experi- 
ence he would undoubtedly be given a nice, cushy job 
behind a desk), and it was with great relief that Yasha and 
I said goodbye to him. One of our lawyers eyed the whole 
proceedings cynically. 

“You know,” h'e said thoughtfully, “I think this time Jack 
has bitten off more than he can chew. He wants to get into 
a uniform so that he can swagger around and impress peo- 
ple, but he’s going to find that even in the chairborne troops 
it’s hard work. And that guy hasn’t put in a good eight-hour 
day in a long, long time.” 

With Jack’s departure I was made the operating head of 
the U.S. Service & Shipping Corporation, which left me 
free to go to Washington whenever necessary without be- 
ing forced to make complicated excuses. Yet my burden of 
work in the business did not let up. In fact it increased to a 
point where I wondered daily just how long I could keep 

Besides, I had to spend at least half my time across the 
street. The World Tourists packer left to get a better pay- 
ing job, Yasha insisted on packing the eleven-pound cartons 
of food and clothing himself, and to ease the physical strain 
on him I pitched in and helped. Packing is not a clean job, 
and I often looked as if I had come out of the nearest ashcan. 

While I was wrestling with the problems of the two busi- 
nesses, I had the infinitely more nerve-racking job of 
relaying information from our Communist agents in Wash- 

[ *63 ] 

ington to Yasha and the Russian Secret Police. Of these 
people, by far the most valuable were in what we loosely 
called the Silvermaster group. 

One of the most important members of the group was 
Harry Dexter White, Under Secretary of the United States 
Treasury and right-hand man of Secretary Morgenthau. He 
was in a position not only to give valuable information but 
also to influence United States policy in a pro-Soviet direc- 
tion. According to Greg, he had been tied up with the 
revolutionary movement for many years, although no one 
seemed to know whether or not he had ever been a Com- 
munist Party member. He had been giving information to 
the Russians during the thirties but ceased abruptly when 
his contact, who was later identified as Whittaker Cham- 
bers, turned “sour” in 1938. Some two years before I came 
into the picture, Harry became very friendly with Greg, 
told him all about his past activities, and offered to give him 
what help he could. Before this episode, Greg had already 
suspected that Harry had some connection with the Rus- 
sians. One evening he and Helen had visited the Whites and 
seen what they thought was a magnificent Russian rug on 
the living-room floor — the same rug that later was proved 
to have been a gift from Whittaker Chambers. They asked 
the Whites if it had come from the Amtorg Corporation, 
whereupon Harry and his wife turned quite pale and vocif- 
erously insisted that it was Persian. Immediately after, as 
they later admitted to Greg, they went up to their attic and 
hid the rug. 

Harry had access to almost all the Treasury’s top-secret 
material. In addition, because of Morgenthau’s policy of 
exchanging information with other government agencies, 
we also received “hush-hush” data from many other stra- 

1 164] 

tegic departments. Harry was also one of our friends at 
court: he pulled strings to help any of our agents who were 
in difficulties. Thus he used his influence when Greg Silver- 
master was under fire in the Board of Economic Warfare in 
1942. He gave recommendations to any of our people who 
needed to get into more sensitive positions (he swung his 
weight around when Ludwig Ullman was shifting to the 
Air Corps), and he placed new contacts in the Treasury 
Department (when he needed an additional office worker 
in 1943, he took on a Communist who had been recom- 
mended by the Silvermasters) . 

For all this, he was essentially a timid man and, as Greg 
put it, “he doesn’t want his right hand to know what the 
left is doing.” To keep him peaceful, Greg had to tell him 
that his material was going to one man of the American 
Communist Party’s Central Committee and nowhere else. 
Although he indubitably knew that it was in reality going 
to Moscow, he didn’t care to think about such things. After 
the unhappy outcome of his dealings with Whittaker Cham- 
bers, White had promised his wife, who was not a Commu- 
nist and disliked his revolutionary activities, that he would 
stay out of espionage in the future, and he lived in terror 
that she would find out he had broken his word. 

Very important, too, was George Silverman. At first a 
statistician with the Railroad Retirement Board and then a 
civilian employee of the Air Corps in the Pentagon, he had 
access during most of the war to many military secrets. He 
was a tall, broad-shouldered, heavy man with thick glasses 
and untidy hair who was regarded by most of his associates 
as being an expert in his field but slightly odd. 

Even more than Harry, he was nervous and worried 
about his espionage activities; although he was a Communist 


of long standing, the realization that he was giving informa- 
tion to the Russian Secret Police gave him the jitters. He 
was offered a colonelcy in the Army but, possibly fearing 
a court-martial if he were found out, he refused to accept 
it, remaining a civilian employee. His caution drove him to 
insist that Greg go up to New York and deliver the ma- 
terial to the Russians there, in the strange belief that that 
would be a safer procedure. 

One time we had a very narrow escape. As I sat in the 
kitchen talking to Helen Silvermaster, George arrived quite 
unexpectedly at the front door, his briefcase bulging with 
papers he had abstracted from the Pentagon. It was inevi- 
table that we run into each other, and if he discovered that 
I was a Soviet agent, he would undoubtedly bolt out of the 
house in a panic and never return. With commendable pres- 
ence of mind, Helen introduced me as Mrs. Something-or- 
Other, a personal friend of hers. George seemed slightly 
reassured, but I shall never forget the initial look of terror 
that came over his face. He was, indeed, frightened of his 
own shadow. He saw F.B.I. men behind every bush, and he 
would arrive at an appointment dripping with cold sweat, 
yet somehow — I could never figure out how — he kept on 
going. Periodically he would threaten to resign, and wea- 
rily the Silvermasters would invite him over for a meal of 
his favorite broiled lobster. Then, when he was well fed and 
at peace with the world, they would argue him into con- 

In addition to these, there were the three central figures 
in the Silvermaster group, with whom I dealt personally: 
Greg and Helen Silvermaster and William Ludwig Ullman. 
Like Helen, Greg made an indelible impression on my mind, 
even though there was nothing outstanding about his physi- 

[ 1 66 ] 

cal appearance. I met him soon after I started shuttling 
down to Washington every two weeks in the summer of 
1941. He was in his mid-forties, slight and of average height, 
with close-cropped steel-gray hair, lightish eyes, and a Hit- 
ler mustache. Generally he spoke slowly and with a pro- 
nounced British accent (he had, I learned, attended an 
English school in China in his youth). When he was excited, 
which was very rarely, he tended to stutter, and his sentence 
construction and pronunciation revealed him for a Russian. 
In a sense he reminded me of Yasha: he had that same pas- 
sionate devotion to the movement — to which he gave every 
ounce of his energy — that same strong and inflexible will 
that drove him on relentlessly; that same impersonal and 
detached mind that refused to be bogged down in petty 
problems and personal emotions. 

How he managed to carry on, I often wondered. He had 
an extremely bad case of bronchial asthma that often left 
him battling for breath, especially in the summertime when 
the foliage was out. He constantly carried an atomizer of 
medicine, and his air-conditioned room and automobile 
were stripped of anything that might harbor dust. He care- 
fully avoided the country in summer. He once broke this 
rule, attending the Bretton Woods Monetary Conference in 
the White Mountains and coming down with a bad attack. 
I remember his saying to me, after one bad bout of asthma: 

“You know,” he said, “there aren’t any medals being 
given for what we are doing. But I don’t want any. My time 
is strictly limited, and when I die I want to feel that at least 
I have had some part in building a decent life for those who 
come after me.” 

The third member of the trio, Lud Ullman, whom I met 
quite soon after the Silvermasters, was a rather colorless- 

[ 167 ] 

looking young man of average height, with receding brown 
hair and sharp features. Born in Missouri of a wealthy fam- 
ily, he had gone to college and then wandered from job to 
job until he finally ended up in the Treasury Department 
sometime in the thirties. He had met the Silvermasters at 
one of their parties. Helen, realizing that in spite of his shy, 
retiring manner he was a man with an extremely facile 
brain and a tremendous amount of vitality, carefully cul- 
tivated his acquaintance and finally persuaded him to join a 
Communist Party unit in Washington. Lud was a lonesome 
person with few friends, and before long he became very 
attached to Greg and Helen, at length moving in with 
them. Moreover, because of his future value to the cause, 
he was asked to drop out of his Communist unit and become 
a member of the Silvermaster group. Under Greg’s training 
he became one of the best agents we ever had. His only 
weakness was that he was unable to operate under his own 
steam for any period of time, and so he continually needed 
encouragement and guidance. 

It was not long before I got to know the Silvermaster 
menage quite well. Once their initial suspicions were al- 
layed, we came to be the best of friends. Every two weeks 
regularly I visited them, choosing a Tuesday or Wednesday 
or Thursday in order to avoid their week-end parties. If 
an emergency arose, they could telephone me at my home 
in New York and I would grab the next train down. Usu- 
ally I would go out to their house late in the afternoon, 
using either a taxi or a combination of buses that landed 
me in front of the Washington home of Boston’s ex-Mayor 
Curley, not far away. I would chat casually with Helen for 
a little while, then when Greg and Lud arrived, the three of 
us would adjourn to the living room to discuss politics 

1 i <58 ] 

while Helen was cooking. Dinner was served on a long, 
wooden table in the kitchen, or during the summer months 
on a screened-in porch in the back — a casual, friendly affair 
with Greg and Lud telling me interesting or humorous inci- 
dents in their work while we ate heartily of Helen’s excel- 
lent food. 

Then, when the dishes had been cleared away, we would 
get down to the business at hand. Greg would give me the 
Communist Party dues for the group, for it was his job to 
calculate and collect what each member owed. This pro- 
cedure was usually accompanied by the explanation that the 
amount was not complete because so-and-so was behind in 
his payments. Next I would give them what literature I had 
brought — current American Communist Party pamphlets 
by such leaders as Browder and Gil Green, and the Soviet 
publications Pravda, the Bolshevik, and others. Almost 
invariably Greg would complain bitterly that the Russian 
material was out of date, and I would be forced to explain 
patiently that the wartime situation had held up shipments. 

At this point I would relay to Greg any requests from 
the Russian Secret Police on people and subjects in which 
they were currently interested. Usually I had jotted these 
down in shorthand for safety’s sake, but sometimes I 
handed him the original instruction sheet, typed in Russian, 
which had been given to Yasha by his Soviet superior. This 
latter invariably started out: “Please have the courtesy to 
ask Sam (Greg’s code name) the following:” and proceeded 
to itemize the various questions. 

What the Russians wanted to know was practically limit- 
less. They asked for information on Communists they were 
considering taking on as agents, on anti-Soviet elements in 
Washington, on the attitudes of high-up government offi- 

[ 169] 

cials in a position to help or hinder the Soviet Union — such 
as William Batt of the War Production Board. They sought 
military data: production figures, performance tests on air- 
planes, troop strength and allocation, and new experimental 
developments such as R.D.X. and the B-29. They were avid 
for so-called political information: secret deals between the 
Americans and the various governments in exile, secret 
negotiations between the United States and Great Britain, 
contemplated loans to foreign countries, and other similar 
material. As Greg read down the list, he would run his fin- 
gers through his hair and groan audibly. 

“How do they expect us to find out all this?” he would 
say hopelessly. 

Aside from their disconcerting habit of asking for the 
impossible, the Russian Secret Police had the annoying 
trick of repeating the same question over and over again, 
even though it had been answered adequately several times. 
I particularly remember one case when they asked Greg 
for information on a Russian-born furrier, then working in 
the War Production Board, whom they evidently thought 
sufficiently sympathetic to the cause to be useful to them. 
Greg carefully dug it up and relayed it on. But that did not 
end the matter. Every so often the same request turned up 
until Greg began to mutter angrily: 

“What’s the matter with those people over there? Don’t 
they keep their files in order? ” 

At the end of two years of this, his irritation turned to 
sardonic amusement and on my arrival he would greet me: 
“Well, are you going to ask me about Mr. X this time?” 
Basically, however, Greg was completely devoted to the 
revolutionary cause, and he forgave the Russians’ short- 
comings because he understood the heavy difficulties under 

[ 170] 

which they were operating. Even these minor outbursts, I 
realized sympathetically, were due mostly to badly frayed 
nerves and unbearable fatigue, so I would sit quietly while 
he poured out his resentment and then, when he had calmed 
down, we would proceed to look over the information he 
had been able to collect. During the next two hours we 
would discuss and put in order the Silvermaster group’s 
material (microfilms of important papers, carbon copies of 
documents, and so on); meanwhile I made stenographic 
notes on information which Lud Ullman had sneaked out 
of his office on small scraps of paper. 

By this time it would be quite late and we would be very 
tired. Helen would make chai (Russian tea) and we 
would sit around the kitchen table sipping it and laughing 
and joking. Then, our goodbyes said and the material safely 
stowed away in my knitting bag, one of them would lead 
me through the backyard to the garage, which fronted on 
an alley, and from there would drive me to Connecticut 
Avenue, where buses to the center of town ran at all hours 
of the night. 



While our meetings continued in a fixed pattern, the 
life and activities of the Silvermaster group fluctuated con- 
siderably. Not long after I took over the group, Lud Ull- 
man, being single and in his mid-thirties, was about to be 
drafted. Fearing to lose a valuable agent, we encouraged 
him to apply for Officers’ Training in the hope that we 
could keep him in this country. Rejected because of flat 
feet and sinus trouble, he entered basic training in the 
Army. His facility for learning easily and his ability to 
take hard, grueling discipline without whimpering (he even 
won the respect of a particularly hard-boiled first sergeant) 
impressed his superiors. Immediately he was sent to Officer 
Candidate School, from which he emerged a lieutenant in 
the Air Corps. Then, with George Silverman and Harry 
White desperately pulling strings, he was finally assigned 
to the Pentagon in Washington, where he became even 
more valuable to us than he had been in the Treasury. 

Quite early, the Russian Secret Police decided that Greg 
Silvermaster’s valuable talents were being wasted in a non- 
productive agency and he was encouraged to move into a 
more strategic part of the government. With the aid of 
Lauchlin Currie (administrative assistant to President Roo- 
sevelt) and Harry White, he became head of the Middle 

[ ! 7 2 1 

East Division of the Board of Economic Warfare (on loan 
from the Farm Security Administration), where he had ac- 
cess to highly confidential economic data. 

For about six months he functioned very efficiently, win- 
ning the rarely given praise of the N.K.V.D.; then one day I 
arrived at the Silvermaster home at six o’clock to find Greg 
sitting wearily on a chair. A glance at his face was enough 
to tell me that something very serious had happened. 

“What’s the matter?” I asked, my heart giving an extra 

“This,” he said succinctly, holding out a page-and-a-half 
letter. It was addressed to his superior in the Board of Eco- 
nomic Warfare and signed by General Strong, head of G-2 
(Army Intelligence). 

I looked through the letter rapidly. After a long pream- 
ble stating that the F.B.I., O.N.I. (Naval Intelligence), and 
G-2 had sufficient evidence in their files to prove that N. 
Gregory Silvermaster was a Communist, it demanded his 
dismissal from his present post on the grounds that he was 
disloyal to the United States government. 

“It’s no use fighting this thing,” he said despairingly. 
“They’ve probably got enough information to hang me. 
I’d better resign now before they kick me out.” 

“No,” I said, coming to a rapid decision and hoping I was 
right. “That would only be admitting the charges are true, 
and we can’t afford for that to happen. Stand your ground, 
put on an air of injured innocence: you are not a Commu- 
nist, just a ‘progressive’ whose record proves you have al- 
ways fought for the rights of labor. Rally all your ‘liberal’ 
friends around. There must be plenty of them. If necessary, 
hire a lawyer to fight the case through on the grounds that 
your reputation has been badly damaged. Meanwhile, pull 

1 r 73 I 

every string you can to get this business quashed. Use Cur- 
rie, White, anybody else you know and trust. It’s going to 
be rough, Greg, but just hold on.” 

Yasha and his superiors in the Russian Secret Police 
agreed with my analysis of the situation. Greg was told to 
stay on in his position and fight back, and I was told to con- 
tinue my contacts with him while exercising the utmost 
caution to avoid surveillance. 

After three months or so relief came to Greg Silvermas- 
ter: Under Secretary of War Robert E. Patterson, con- 
vinced by various pleas that an injustice had been done, 
forced the War Department to withdraw its demands. Greg 
was permitted to resign from the Board of Economic War- 
fare and return to the Department of Agriculture — and 
with a clean slate! After a sigh of relief that must have 
echoed throughout the entire Russian Secret Police appara- 
tus, we went back to our normal routine. 

As time went on, under the guidance of Yasha and 
myself the Silvermaster group steadily stepped up its intel- 
ligence operations. This, plus the shifting of personnel and 
the adding of new agents, meant that the information I han- 
dled varied considerably in type and volume. At the very 
beginning it was fairly meager and consisted largely of so- 
called political data obtained mostly through the Treasury 
Department. This varied all the way from downright gos- 
sipy items (such as the one about the White House 
attendant who, infuriated by Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 
arrogance, said he was going up to Chinatown and kick the 
first Chinese he met) to important secret information, such 
as United States plans for allocating Lend Lease. Moreover, 
it was handled in an extremely slipshod and unsystematic 
manner. What I took back to New York was only a few 


typewritten sheets on which Helen or Lud had briefly 
jotted down confidential information, plus a few carbon 
copies of important documents and letters. 

Very soon, however, all this changed. The Russian 
Secret Police, their appetite whetted by the value of the 
material, demanded more extensive and detailed informa- 
tion. Almost simultaneously, due to the shifting of group 
members into more sensitive positions, we had access to 
extremely confidential data which, while it could not be 
abstracted from the United States government files perma- 
nently, could be “borrowed” for at least overnight. The 
old haphazard methods no longer sufficed. From then on, 
members of the group brought secret material to the Silver- 
master home at night, where it was photographed on mi- 
crofilm, and then returned the files the first thing in the 
morning before their absence could be discovered. 

At first the output was on a relatively small scale and 
consisted of around three or four rolls of microfilm, aver- 
aging about thirty-five exposures to a roll. These, the Sil- 
vermasters developed themselves. I would then take the 
rolls back to New York where Yasha and I would look over 
the photographed documents. As time went on, however, 
the number of rolls increased until I was carrying back 
about forty of them every fortnight. It became impossible 
for the Silvermasters to handle both the filming and the 
developing and so, by the spring of 1943, the rolls were be- 
ing transmitted undeveloped to the N.K.V.D., to be devel- 
oped in the Soviet Embassy’s laboratory. They were accom- 
panied by an itemized list of what documents were contained 
on each spool in case the negative was blank or unreadable. 
In the latter case, we would try to get the material back 
and rephotograph it. 


Difficulties soon arose — and such serious ones that they 
often drove the Silvermasters, worn out from lack of sleep, 
into a state of near hysteria. It was hard enough to take pic- 
tures of clearly typed documents on good paper, but when 
they ran into blurred carbon copies on poor stock, none of 
which ever came out legibly or, worse still, papers typed 
in three colors, a secret process used by one or two “hush- 
hush” United States government departments to prevent 
enemy spies from photographing them, they threw up their 
hands in despair. 

The Russian Secret Police itself often contributed to the 
confusion — a fact which irritated the Silvermasters far 
more. The spools of microfilm were furnished by the 
N.K.V.D., because it was deemed unwise for the group to 
purchase them openly and further because, during part of 
the war years, it was impossible for a civilian to obtain 
them. Many times the Russians, obviously handicapped by 
a lack of supplies, could only send down a fraction of the 
quantity needed. Often they had to give me rolls of a less 
sensitive, slower speed film that made photographing docu- 
ments extremely difficult, if not impossible. On such occa- 
sions Greg, with his nerves stretched to the breaking point, 
would explode in a burst of anger. 

“How do they expect us to carry on when they can’t 
furnish us with adequate films? ” he would demand angrily. 
“They must have plenty of that material over there.” Then, 
with a glint of sardonic amusement: “Or has something 
gone wrong with the United States government’s Lend 
Lease program to the Soviet Union?” 

In spite of these difficulties, the Silvermaster group man- 
aged to collect a fabulous amount of confidential material 
which they photographed and passed on to the Russian 


Secret Police. As month succeeded month, I was more im- 
pressed by the amount and the value of the information 
which flowed through my hands. Our most fruitful source 
of material had by then become the Pentagon. Through 
Silverman and especially through Ullman came every con- 
ceivable piece of data on aircraft — production-figure charts 
showing allocation of planes to combat areas and foreign 
countries, performance data, new and secret developments 
in numberless fields. I remember when I returned to New 
York from one trip, loaded down with miscellaneous 

“What have you got this time?” Yasha asked interestedly. 

“I think I’ve brought you the entire Pentagon,” I an- 

I was not far wrong and was rewarded by a glow of 

Besides this purely military information, we had a steady 
flow of political reports from the Treasury which included 
material from the Office of Strategic Services, the State 
Department, the Navy, the Army., and even a limited 
amount of data from the Department of Justice. We knew 
what was going on in the inner chambers of the United 
States government, up to and including the White House. 
In fact I doubt if there were very many people who were 
quite as well informed as we on what was happening in 

Meanwhile our list of Communist agents in the govern- 
ment was steadily increasing. Yasha’s look-out men were 
proving to be exceedingly efficient in producing people, 
and Earl Browder, released in the spring of 1942 before his 
prison term expired, was of great help to us in this matter. 
As each of these new Communists was detached from the 

1 177] 

open Communist Party and annexed to the N.K.V.D., thus 
being responsible only to Yasha and myself, he became an 
individual contact and not a member of a group. Unlike the 
Silvermasters, they were born Americans and hence were 
trusted even less. 

Many of them were definitely “problem children,” due 
to their youth and nervousness about undercover activities. 
One of these was William W. Remington, whom we always 
referred to as our “infant prodigy.” A brilliant student in 
economics at Dartmouth College and later at Columbia 
University, he had by the early part of 1942 obtained a posi- 
tion in the United States government, at which time he came 
to our attention. Stranded in Washington without a Com- 
munist unit, he approached his friend Joe North, then ed- 
itor of the New Masses, on one of his trips to New York 
and asked him for a contact. North, sensing his potential 
usefulness as an agent, promptly alerted Yasha, who looked 
up his record with the Central Control Commission and 
found that Bill had been a member of the Party in good 
standing for some time. He looked like a promising pros- 
pect, and Yasha arranged to confer with him over lunch, 
after which Yasha came to see me. 

“I think we’ve got another good contact,” he said hope- 
fully. “Not only is he a reliable Communist but he’s bril- 
liant in his own field and should go far in the government. 
Moreover, he’s got a good solid middle-class background 
— fine family, education in well-known schools — and he 
has a reputation for being respectable. I doubt if any of his 
friends or acquaintances have the slightest suspicion that 
he has any radical tendencies. I don’t know how useful his 
present job will prove. But with proper training we can 
always move him into some more productive government 


agency. I’m going to introduce you to him and his wife and 
you can make arrangements to see him in Washington.” 

The four of us had dinner at Schrafft’s restaurant on 
Fourth Avenue at the corner of 31st Street. Bill was a tall, 
lanky young man with sandy hair and blue eyes — the typi- 
cal clean-cut American lad, I thought to myself. His wife 
Anne, whom he called “Bing,” was much shorter, with 
brown hair and eyes and the look of a solid, steady person. 

In accordance with a prearranged plan we chatted on 
general topics for a little while. Then, while Yasha discussed 
details of the undercover work with Bill, I kept Anne’s at- 
tention with desultory conversation. We always made it a 
rule not to let any more people than were strictly necessary 
know about intelligence operations — this minimized the 
danger to the apparatus in case any agent turned “sour” 
and talked too much. At the end of the meal I made arrange- 
ments with the Remingtons to call them when I was in 

From then on, until he went into the Navy in 1944, Bill 
was attached to our organization. I met him on my trips to 
Washington, brought him current Communist literature, 
and collected what data he had been able to smuggle out of 
his agency. I also, of course, collected both the Remingtons’ 
Party dues — a task rendered difficult by the fact that Bill 
seemed to be perpetually broke. For a good share of the 
time I knew him, Bill held a position in the War Production 
Board, where secret data on aircraft production, allocation, 
and performance crossed his desk. These he would give me, 
plus any inside information on policies and attitudes of 
higher-ups in the agency or items of interest to the Rus- 
sians, such as a formula for making synthetic rubber out of 

1 >79l 

Whether or not Bill ever suspected that his material was 
going to the Russian Secret Police, and not to the American 
Communist Party, as he had been told, I never knew, but 
certainly he was one of the most frightened people with 
whom I have ever had to deal. It was difficult to get him to 
bring out carbon copies of documents. Usually he would 
jot the information down on small scraps of paper, giving 
them to me furtively and with many admonitions about not 
letting them fall into the wrong hands. Moreover, lacking 
the courage to break with the Party and refuse to continue 
his undercover activities, he often resorted to elaborate and 
quite transparent subterfuges to avoid doing his Communist 
duties. He would deprecate the value of the information 
that he gave, saying that it wasn’t worth bothering with. 
He would be tied up in nonexistent conferences on the days 
when I was in Washington, or he would be simply unreach- 
able. All this reminded me very strongly of a small boy 
trying to avoid mowing the lawn or cleaning out the fur- 
nace when he would much rather go fishing. Sometimes I 
would suggest hopefully to Yasha that we ought to return 
Bill to the open Party. 

“No,” he would say firmly. “While the material he is 
producing is not outstanding, it does help to corroborate or 
supplement what we are getting through the Silvermasters. 
And, besides, there is still the possibility that we can push 
him into a really good position.” 

Despite my private conviction that Yasha was wrong, I 
continued the painful process of trying to extract informa- 
tion from Bill. This was further complicated by the fact 
that both he and his wife were seemingly trying to get into 
left-wing or Communist-front organizations, doubtless in 
the hope that by becoming well known as Reds they would 

[ 180 ] 

lose their value to our organization and be sent back to the 
open Party. Although I told them sternly to avoid any such 
activities, I could never be sure they carried out my orders. 
I began to feel that the Remingtons were more bother than 
they were worth, particularly in view of the many other 
contacts I had to handle. 

In the meantime Mary Price was proving to be an ex- 
tremely valuable person to us, and not only because she was 
relaying very interesting material which she found in Wal- 
ter Lippmann’s files. On our instructions she had left the 
house which she shared with her two Communist friends 
on Olive Avenue in the Georgetown area. We felt she was 
running too great a risk, since they were both well known 
as Reds, so she eventually took an apartment by herself on 
the top floor of an old house at 2038 Eye Street, N.W. She 
had an extra bed on the screened-in porch where I could 
stay overnight, thus eliminating the risk of registering at 
one of the Washington hotels — places we had been told to 
avoid because the F.B.I. kept a strict watch on all of them. 
The bed was narrow and hard, and in the wintertime the 
supply of blankets was so limited that I had to put news- 
papers under the mattress to keep out the cold. I would 
often awaken in the morning stiff in every joint, yet in 
those days I was so fagged out that I could have slept on 

Besides serving these useful functions, Mary brought into 
our apparatus one of our most important agents — Duncan 
C. Lee, a direct descendant of General Robert E. Lee. Born 
in China of missionary parents, educated first over there 
and then in the United States and England, he became a 
brilliant young lawyer and worked for “Wild Bill” Dono- 
van’s law firm in New York City. He had been a member 

[181 J 

of the Party for some time, and when we first heard of him, 
he was attached to the Communist group that functioned 
within the Institute of Pacific Relations. 

In the early summer Duncan took a position as a confi- 
dential assistant to General Donovan, then head of the O.S.S. 
He and his red-haired, Scottish-born wife Ishbel moved 
down to Washington. Yasha and I briefly considered my 
contacting him. Mary, however, vetoed the suggestion, say- 
ing that he was so high-strung and nervous that the sight 
of a stranger would send him into a state of panic. 

“What does he look like?” I remember asking her. 

“Nothing outstanding,” she said thoughtfully. “Average 
height, medium-brown hair and light eyes, glasses, rather 
studious looking. He’s a good person, only he’s never be- 
fore been mixed up in this sort of thing.” 

I looked at her sharply, wondering if she herself knew 
just whom she was working for. I had taken pains enough 
to keep her in complete ignorance, even though I did trust 
her sufficiently to give her my telephone number in New 
York. Whatever her surmises, however, they did not seem 
to affect her attitude, for she continued to carry on her 
duties imperturbably. During the summer and fall of 1942 
she was my intermediary with Duncan, bringing him Com- 
munist literature and collecting his Party dues. Besides 
which, Mary brought him instructions from us and col- 
lected his information. His wife, being a British subject, was 
not at that time a member, due to the American Communist 
Party’s policy in those years of not accepting aliens for 

His material at that point, while valuable, was meager. 
He would only give Mary small bits of information orally, 


making her promise she would not write it down but would 
carry it in her head. Since a Communist does not regard his 
promise as anything sacred — except, of course, when it is 
made to his superior in the Party — Mary would memorize 
the data and then rush home to write it down in shorthand. 
Nevertheless, this procedure was hazardous, because there 
was always the chance she might not remember the infor- 
mation correctly. We tried to get Mary to change Duncan’s 
attitude, but unfortunately she was still “green” at the es- 
pionage business and had great difficulty in handling people. 
The Russian Secret Police were becoming more and more 
impatient and it was arranged that I contact Duncan in- 
stead. He was one of the most nervous people with whom 
I had to deal. His innate fear had been greatly heightened 
by the “cloak-and-dagger” attitude that was then rampant 
in the O.S.S. He was unwilling to have me telephone him, 
for he was convinced that his phone might be tapped. He 
sat quite close to me in the living room and almost whis- 
pered his information for fear that the walls might have 
ears. Moreover, although I succeeded in getting from him 
more and better information than had Mary, he almost al- 
ways gave it to me orally and rarely would he give me a 
document, although under pressure he would hand over 
scraps of paper on which he had written down important 

It was in the summer of 1942 that I finally met Earl 
Browder. He had taken a summer cottage on a lake near 
Monroe, New York, where he could rest and do some 
writing. As Yasha and I drove into the front yard, Earl was 
standing on the front steps, nonchalant in baggy trousers 
and a sport shirt, with his pipe in his mouth. He made no 


gesture of recognition until we were quite close to him, 
then he took his pipe out of his mouth and nodded in a 
friendly manner. Yasha smiled at him cheerfully. 

“Comrade Browder,” he said, “this is Comrade Bentley.” 
I stood speechless, trying to think of something suitable 
to say while Earl, after having looked me over briefly, 
shook hands with Yasha and asked how the trip had been. 
Then, as I was still standing embarrassed, Earl waved to- 
ward the front door. 

“Come on in,” he said. “I think lunch is almost ready.” 
As I followed him up the front steps, I found myself 
studying him covertly. Yes, he looked very much like his 
pictures, only much older and quite tired. Yet in spite of 
his general air of weariness and flabbiness, I sensed that there 
was a terrific amount of vitality and energy. 

The large table was loaded with all sorts of food — salads, 
meat, cheese — and, as we sat down, Earl’s wife Raissa came 
bustling in from the kitchen with plates and napkins, shout- 
ing imperious orders in Russian to her servant, whom she 
called Nyanya. She acknowledged her introduction to me 
briefly, almost without interest, and then launched into a 
long conversation with Yasha. I thought to myself, as I 
gazed at her, that she must once have been a very beautiful 
woman but now, in her fifties, she was fading fast. The 
former seductive curves of her body were thickened by 
fat; the flesh on her arms was no longer firm, and the obvi- 
ously gray hair had been dyed in a pathetic attempt to 
restore it to its original color. She’s the sort of woman who 
refuses to admit she’s growing old, I thought to myself, as 
I watched her gazing with seeming coyness at Yasha. Then, 
as I continued to watch her, I realized that beneath this pa- 
thetic exterior she was a dangerous woman. There was an 

[ 184] 

air of arrogance and thinly veiled cruelty about her that 
repelled me. She would go to any lengths to get what she 
wanted, I decided, and I wondered to myself just why Earl, 
who seemed so nice, could ever have been attracted to her. 
What I did not then know was that Ra'issa, even as far back 
as the Revolution, had been a powerful figure in the G.P.U. 
organization in Russia and that she still worked for it. One 
of her duties was to keep her husband in line and make 
reports on him. Browder had evidently had no choice in 
his marriage; the powers-that-be in Moscow had issued the 
orders and he had had to follow them. 

Soon after Browder was back in circulation, he made an 
agreement with Yasha to give us all the help we needed in 
getting contacts for information gathering in Washington. 
In return, he wanted to see the data we were collecting 
down there so that he would be au courant with the situa- 
tion. He was continually writing articles and books, and he 
needed this inside dope for background material. He did, 
however, insist he had no desire to see military information. 
At the time I was puzzled at this exception, but I later 
learned that he was fearful of being mixed up in any espi- 
onage of a military character. Activity of this nature, if dis- 
covered by the American authorities, subjected one to a 
heavy penalty and Earl had already spent two terms in 
prison. Although he had had an enjoyable time playing chess 
with the other inmates, he was not anxious to return for a 
third term. 

Why Yasha needed to make special arrangements with 
Earl baffled me. I took it for granted that Communists all 
over the world helped each other without any trading. 
Much later on, however, I learned that a quite-savage strug- 
gle for personal power goes on in the ranks of the Commu- 


nist Party and that every man who wishes to maintain his 
position or to advance must use every ounce of ingenuity 
and ruthlessness he possesses. Earl Browder, surrounded 
by power-hungry rivals, knew he must keep one jump 
ahead of them to stay in his precarious position. To do this, 
he must be able to convince his Moscow bosses that he was 
a valuable man who knew how to anticipate every twist 
and turn of the Party line. By having access to inside infor- 
mation on the policy of the United States government — 
information which he knew was also going to the Soviet 
Union — he could guess what Moscow’s next move would 
be and swing in the right direction. 

On the other hand, Yasha’s superiors in the Russian Se- 
cret Police were continually demanding quick results of 
him. They accepted no excuse for failure and inflicted mer- 
ciless discipline. Hence, to prove that he was a good agent, 
he had made this secret deal with Earl whereby he was able 
to get more information for the N.K.V.D. The Russians, in- 
cidentally, knew nothing about this agreement and did not 
approve when they later found out. They were against 
building up the personal power and prestige of any of their 
puppets like Earl, because this meant that sooner or later 
they might have difficulty controlling them. 

One result of Yasha’s agreement with Earl Browder was 
that the latter approved of his continuing use of Louis Bu- 
denz, then the editor of the Daily Worker. Although I did 
not know it, Louis and Yasha had been friends for some 
time, and I only became aware of the tie-up between them 
in the spring of 1943 when Yasha suggested I pick him up as 
a contact. 

[ 186] 

“I’ve got so much to do myself,” he said apologetically. 
“And I don’t think it will take much of your time.” 

My heart contracted with pity for Yasha. He was grow- 
ing weaker and weaker physically, but his pride would not 
let him admit he no longer had his old strength. Tired as I 
was, I was glad to relieve him of an added burden. It was 
therefore arranged that I would go downtown with Yasha 
the next day and meet Budenz. 

Our rendezvous was near the headquarters of the Com- 
munist Party, a building in which the Daily Worker was 
also located. After Yasha had gone up to the eighth floor 
and brought Budenz down, I was introduced under the 
name of Helen and we adjourned to a bar and grill on the 
corner of University Place and 12 th Street. There we set- 
tled ourselves in a wooden booth where we could not be 
overheard, ordered coffee, and began to discuss our busi- 

The most important of Budenz’s contacts we discussed 
that day was Louis Adamic, the Jugoslav-born novelist 
who, although not at that time a Communist Party member, 
was quite close to the movement. Budenz knew him and 
had occasional conferences with him, during which he 
learned quite interesting items. Moreover, Adamic became 
an unofficial adviser to the O.S.S. on the subject of his na- 
tive Jugoslavia, and what he learned in this position filtered 
back to us. 

It was arranged that Louis and I would meet in the future 
in the same bar and grill. There would be no prearranged 
meetings. Instead, when I wanted to see him I would call 
the Daily Worker (if he was not in, I would leave word 
that “Helen Johns” had called); when he had information 


to be passed on he would call me at World Tourists, leaving 
word in my absence that “Mr. Louis” had called. 

Meanwhile, Yasha had taken on Communist agents 
whom he handled himself and about whose existence I 
knew nothing — or very little. In the fall of 1942 he an- 
nounced that he had acquired a Communist cell of engi- 
neers, many of whose members could be placed in strategic 
places in the United States government. The leader of this 
group, he said, was named Julius. Since Julius worked 
around New York, he would be the contact man. It was 
arranged that whenever he had information available he 
would call me at my apartment and I in turn would notify 
Yasha so that they could get together. Julius has since been 
identified as Julius Rosenberg, sentenced to death in April 
1 95 1 for atom-bomb espionage activities. 

In addition to all these activities, Yasha also had the job 
of counterintelligence covering the various Russian agen- 
cies. In almost every Soviet business he had a contact who 
apprised him of the operations of both the Soviet and 
American employees. 

One of Yasha’s oddest contacts was Vladimir Kazake- 
vich, a tall, hungry-looking Russian with glasses and a per- 
petually absent-minded air. He had been born of White 
Russian parents, his father being an official in the Trans- 
Siberian railroad. Up until the late twenties or early thirties 
he had had no particular Communist sympathies. But later, 
when he came to this country via the West Coast, he had 
there fallen in with a group of Communists who had suc- 
ceeded in converting him. While he never became a Party 
member, he moved from then on in left-wing and Com- 
munist circles, eking out a precarious existence writing ar- 

[ 188] 

tides and making speeches. He was in the strange predica- 
ment of being neither a Soviet national nor an American 
citizen, and he traveled on a Nansen passport. His one con- 
quering ambition was to return to the U.S.S.R. and become 
a Soviet citizen. The Russians, however, seemed to feel that 
he was more useful here as a propagandist for the Russian 

When I first met Kazakevich in 1941, he was haunting 
Yasha’s office with monotonous regularity in the pathetic 
hope that by bringing odd bits of information to the G.P.U. 
he could earn permission to go back home. These visits were 
always carefully timed to coincide with our lunch hour, for 
he knew that Yasha would be kind-hearted enough to buy 
him a decent meal. Most of what he reported was trivial, yet 
Yasha always let him come, thinking that perhaps he would 
one day have something important to offer. Many times I 
would look out the door of his office and then whisper to 

“Don’t look now, but here comes Kazy — right on time 
for lunch.” 

Yasha would sigh. “Poor devil! I don’t suppose he’s got 
anything important for me, but he always looks so hungry 
I can’t refuse to feed him.” 

At one point, indeed, Kazakevich did get a position teach- 
ing for the Army at Cornell University; but just as we re- 
joiced at this and began to get good information from him, 
he was exposed as a Communist by Frederick Woltman of 
the New York World Telegram. Yasha took the news 

“I’m afraid he never will be much good to us,” he said. 
“And besides, in spite of my orders he’s taken to running in 

[ 189] 

and out of the Soviet consulate, doing errands for the consul 
in the hope that he can get back to Moscow. That could 
endanger the apparatus.” 

Thereafter, except for infrequent visits, we never saw 
Kazakevich on business, although once in the spring of 1 944 
I ran into him in the Four Continents bookstore and took 
him to a nearby cafeteria for a cup of coffee. After my testi- 
mony naming him before a Congressional committee in 
1949, I read in the paper that he had left for Russia. Evi- 
dently the Russians felt that he wasn’t a safe person to have 
around the United States, even with his middling knowledge 
of espionage activities. I often wonder whether he is six 
feet under now, along with the rest of the Soviet agents 
who are no longer useful to Moscow. 

I remember the case of one Russian Army major who 
got himself talked about because he insistently patronized 
Cafe Society downtown, night after night, and sat gazing 
amorously at Lena Horne, who was then a singer in the 
club. Soviet intelligence was distressed about this incident 
additionally, because the owner of the club was fairly well 
known as a Communist and we knew that the F.B.I. kept 
it under constant surveillance. Evidently the major was 
stepped on firmly, for after a while no more adverse reports 
came in about him. 

Most of the reports from Yasha’s undercover man in the 
Amtorg Corporation, however, dealt with shady business 
transactions that were sabotaging the Soviet war effort. It 
was incredible to me how many American employees of 
that firm had relatives in the manufacturing business to 
whom they could steer Soviet orders for material, mean- 
while making themselves a neat profit on their purchases. 
The material was inferior and the prices they had to 

[ 190 ] 

pay were completely exorbitant. Sometimes, after wading 
through one of these reports, I would feel actually nau- 

“What’s the use of people fighting and dying to destroy 
Fascism,” I would ask Yasha, “when parasites like that are 
waxing fat and prosperous?” 

He would shrug his shoulders. “That’s why we need to 
build a new world where we can educate people to deal 
decently and honestly with each other. We can’t do much 
with this sort of scum now except get them out of our or- 
ganizations; when the Revolution comes we won’t be able 
to rehabilitate them, so they’ll just have to be liquidated.” 

By the early summer of 1943 I began to feel that I was 
chained to some inexorable treadmill that dragged me be- 
hind it as it mercilessly stepped up its tempo. Fatigue 
became a constant companion; I was so tired that I could 
fall asleep on buses, on trains, and even standing up. Each 
day I would say to myself: I can’t go on any longer — I’ll 
just lie down and never get up again. Yet each succeeding 
day found me doggedly battling on. With this physical fa- 
tigue went a mental weariness that made it difficult to con- 
centrate on anything but the vital problems of the moment. 
It was an effort even to think back and remember what had 
gone on two weeks before. I could only hang on, moment 
by moment, hour by hour, and not think too much of the 

I knew now that Yasha was a dying man and that the end 
might come at any moment — it was only by some miracle 
of will power he was still alive. Once, while talking to me 
on the interoffice telephone, he couldn’t catch his breath. 
I slammed down the receiver and dashed across the street, 
knocking down people in my haste. That time I found him 

[ 19 1 1 

shaken and white-faced — but alive. I wondered what the 
next attack might bring. 

From then on he spent many nights at my apartment, be- 
cause I didn’t want him to be alone. Although I had always 
been a very sound sleeper, I began to have frightful night- 
mares, from which I would awaken dripping with sweat. 
Then I would lie awake for the next hour, listening to the 
sound of his irregular breathing and wishing that I could 
hear the sound of his voice to reassure me. 

Sometimes I was so edgy from tension that I would shout 
at him, “You can’t keep on going like this. They have no 
right to ask you to destroy yourself!” 

He would look at me listlessly and shake his head. “It’s 
no use. Soon I shall be leaving you.” 

His very disinterestedness would only add to my alarm. 
I had never before known him to admit defeat; even though 
the odds were against him, he would battle on. Now he had 
ceased to care whether he lived or not. 

“You must not worry about me,” he would say gently. 
“There is no peace for a revolutionary except in the grave, 
and soon my troubles will be over.” 

Perhaps he is right, I said to myself; perhaps he will be 
fortunate to be able to escape from the pain and suffering of 
this world into a blessed nothingness. 

“But you can’t leave me,” I would cry in agony. “What 
will I do without you?” 

He would smile sadly and hold me close. “You will have 
to be very brave, and it will not be easy. Only, when I am 
gone, remember that we two found a perfect happiness that 
few in this world have ever known. Perhaps that memory 
will help you to bear the pain of parting.” 

With an effort I would steady myself and choke back the 


tears; his days were few now, and I must not spoil them with 
any sadness. I would not think of the future. 

Meanwhile, Mary Price had decided she wanted to give 
up her position with Walter Lippmann. Yasha and I tried to 
convince her that she should stay, but it became increas- 
ingly obvious that she was cracking up. Finally it was de- 
cided that she resign and go to Mexico for the summer to 
get her health back. We arranged to keep in touch with her 
through her sister Mildred (Mrs. Harold Coy), executive 
head of the pro-Communist China Aid Council. At first, 
Yasha and I regarded Mildred merely as an intermediary 
with Mary, but soon we discovered she would be a valuable 
adjunct to our apparatus in her own right. She was at that 
time, he told me, the organizer of the Communist unit which 
functioned in the Institute of Pacific Relations — a founda- 
tion for Far Eastern studies which had originally been set 
up by well-meaning philanthropists but which had long 
since fallen under the domination of the Communists. The 
organization, because of its respectable past and high-sound- 
ing title, had been able to enroll in its ranks a vast number of 
“innocents,” among them professors and businessmen who 
were interested in Pacific affairs. Hence it had, he explained 
to me, become the center of all Communist activity in the 
Far Eastern field, offering a protective covering to a num- 
ber of smaller, more obviously pro-Communist enterprises 
that clustered around it. Among these were the China Aid 
Council, of which Mildred was executive secretary, and the 
magazines China T oday and Amerasia. 

The Communist group in the Institute of Pacific Rela- 
tions, which he told me was made up of every Party member 
in the Far Eastern field — regardless of what organization 

[ *93 1 

he was attached to — was set up in a very special way. In- 
stead of being attached to a geographical section headquar- 
ters, as was the case with most units, it was handled directly 
by Frederick Vanderbilt Field, who in turn was responsible 
directly to Earl Browder. This arrangement was made nec- 
essary because the work that the cell was doing was so se- 
cret and so valuable that it had to be protected from any 
leaks. In actual fact, however, this set-up was pathetically 
inadequate to protect the activities of the group, as Yasha 
pointed out to me. 

“It’s a hang-over from the days when we didn’t operate 
properly,” he said disgustedly. “At that time all undercover 
work was routed via the Party. Now we know enough to 
have our agents directly in contact with the Russians.” 
“What are they doing?” I asked interestedly. 

“Getting Party members and sympathizers into the 
United States government where they can be of use to us,” 
he said. “They’ve already done pretty well along this line. 
They’ve placed several good solid people in jobs where they 
can effectively influence American policy on the Far East 
in a pro-Soviet direction, and I understand they are collect- 
ing good information that is being relayed to our friends via 
Browder. The only thing that bothers me is that they’re 
operating so indiscreetly. It’s an open secret that the Insti- 
tute of Pacific Relations is red as the rose. Moreover, with 
that clumsy set-up, it will be a miracle if the F.B.I. doesn’t 
trip over them sooner or later.” 

“Are we going to take them on?” I asked. 

“Certainly not!” he answered. “I wouldn’t touch them 
with a ten-foot pole. But they might be a valuable source of 
agents for us. We got Duncan Lee from the group and there 
may be others there that haven’t yet been too tarred with 

[ 194] 

the red brush. Keep in touch with Mildred and find out if 
she knows anyone in there that we could use.” 

I was still curious about the I.P.R. group. “But why, if it is 
operating in such a dangerous fashion, doesn’t someone do 
something about the situation? ” 

He looked at me despondently. “I don’t know. Some- 
times I don’t understand what is going on in Moscow. 
Things seem to have changed since my days. The old crowd 
no longer seems to be in charge, and the new ones are very 

Thoughtfully I looked at him, realizing this was not the 
first time he had made these cryptic comments that seemed 
to indicate something was very drastically wrong. How 
many times in the past few months had he come back from 
his appointment with his Russian contact, a young man 
who had replaced Charlie, to say to me despairingly, “I 
don’t understand what’s happening. It’s all so different from 
what it used to be.” When I would anxiously ask him what 
was the matter, he would fall silent; and after a few min- 
utes, he would turn on me savagely and say, “No matter 
what happens to me, keep on going.” I remembered, too, 
how bitter he was at the Russians’ inability to deliver the 
right amount of films in the proper condition. 

“They’re trying, to sabotage my work,” he would say 
fiercely. “They want to get rid of me.” 

What is going on, I would say to myself, feeling a queer 
sense of panic. Can it be that our own people would behave 
this way? Then I would steady myself. Undoubtedly, in 
Yasha’s condition small incidents got magnified into unrec- 
ognizable phantasms. Yes, I would say to myself reassur- 
ingly, that must be the answer, and I would hold him very 
close, trying to make him feel the security of my love. 

[ J 95 ] 


By the middle of September, Mary Price returned from 
Mexico and after some persuasion agreed to go on to Wash- 
ington in the hope that she could obtain a position in the 
United States government. Unfortunately she had no luck. 
Although she seemed on the verge of getting a job in the 
Office of Strategic Services, she was turned down at the last 
minute. Later, through Duncan Lee, we found that the real 
reason for her turndown was “past Communist associa- 
tions.” Suspecting at the time, however, that it had been 
something of this nature, we began to realize that perhaps 
the United States government intelligence agencies had a 
dossier on her and that it would be impossible to push her 
into a productive position. We therefore encouraged her to 
place herself with one of the Washington newspapers so 
we could use her as an intermediary between some of our 
agents and ourselves. She agreed to this and meanwhile I 
made arrangements for her to meet J. Julius Joseph one eve- 

Promptly at the appointed hour I brought Joe to her 
house, having previously told her to be sure to be alone. As 
she opened the door, I heard the sound of masculine voices 
in the living room. I opened my mouth to speak, but Mary 
put her finger on her lips. Hurriedly she led us out onto the 

[ i9 6 l 

back porch and then explained she was entertaining two 
men from the Office of War Information. To my horror I 
learned that one of them was a man I had known years be- 
fore in my Communist unit at Columbia University, and 
this could be a very serious situation. 

“Go back and get rid of them as soon as possible,” I said 
in a whisper. “I’ll talk to you later.” 

It was two hours before Mary’s visitors departed. All that 
time Joe and I had huddled behind the stove, hoping desper- 
ately that no one would think to come out there. When we 
finally emerged from our hiding place, cramped and tired, 
I sent Joe on home and proceeded to give Mary a piece of 
my mind. 

“What’s the idea?” I demanded angrily. “Don’t you know 
you’re jeopardizing the whole apparatus with a perform- 
ance like that?” 

She began to weep. “I can’t live like a hermit,” she cried 
out. “I’ve got to have some companionship. They dropped 
in to see me and I couldn’t get rid of them.” 

I eyed her severely. “Look, Mary, you are not supposed 
to have the kind of friends that visit you unexpectedly. It’s 
too dangerous. Besides which, one of those men used to 
be a Party member.” 

“I don’t care,” she sobbed. “I can’t take any more of this. 
I want to live like a human being.” 

I winced at her words. She was right, of course. None of 
us were living like human beings. We had become a pack 
of hunted animals. No, that wasn’t correct; at least the ani- 
mals lived normal lives except for brief intervals when 
hunters were on their trail. But for those of us who worked 
in the underground there was no respite, no rest, no relaxa- 
tion. Why, I said to myself, do individuals have to be de- 

[ >97 1 

stroyed to build a new world? For a moment I looked at 
her sadly. 

“All right, Mary,” I said very gently. “Just take it easy. 
We’ll see what we can do.” 

Back in New York, Yasha listened silently to my recital, 
his face expressionless. Then he finally spoke. 

“Perhaps it is better this way,” he said. “I’ll try to get her 
back to the open Party where she can find friends, but I’m 
going to have some difficulty. The Russians want her for a 
special job.” 

“Job?” I asked, puzzled. “What job?” 

He stared at the floor. “I didn’t tell you before, but 
they’ve been putting the screws on me to hand Mary over 
to them. I’ve steadily refused because I know what they 
want her for and I don’t approve.” He stopped for a mo- 
ment and then said bitterly, “They think she could be 
extremely useful to them. She’s attractive and single, besides 
being intelligent and a trusted worker. They want to set 
her up in an apartment, buy her fancy clothes, and let her 
use her wiles on men who would be useful to the cause. I 
told them that they could hire prostitutes for that, but they 
said that I was a sentimentalist.” 

I stared at him speechless, trying to digest what he had 
said; I found myself struggling with a wave of disgust. It 
must be true if he said so, but I had never known before that 
the movement used women like this. Later on I was to be 
told that even in the open Party it was a common and ef- 
fective tactic, used especially by waterfront “street” units 
interested in attracting sailors. Yet, up till then, due to the 
type of “shop” unit I had been in and to Yasha’s desire to 
protect me, I had been entirely ignorant of such methods. 
He saw the expression on my face. 


“I know,” he said. “I don’t like it either. But remember 
we are fighting a revolution and we sometimes have to do 
things that we don’t like.” Then he turned to me fiercely. 
“But this is going too far. I’m going to fight this thing to the 
end, no matter what the cost. If anything happens to me, 
take care of Mary. Don’t under any circumstances let her 
be turned over to them.” 

Tired as I was that night, I lay awake for hours, thinking 
over what Yasha had told me. I remembered what Juliet 
had said about women giving not only their souls but even 
their bodies to the Revolution. I had discounted it then be- 
cause she was a counterrevolutionary. Now I began to see 
some of the ugly and sordid aspects to the business of being 
a revolutionary. With increasing revulsion I wondered why 
we had to get down in the mud and wallow in it in order to 
build a new world. I found myself wishing passionately 
that I could get out of this undercover work and back into 
the open Party, where the air was clean and wholesome. 
Then I looked at Yasha lying beside me and knew that, lov- 
ing him as I did, I could not abandon him when he needed 
me the most. 

Mary was delighted when I told her she could leave. She 
packed her things and came up to New York to live with her 
sister while she looked for a job and an apartment. Mean- 
while, Yasha had another agent, a girl of about Mary’s age, 
who was going down to Washington to look for a job in 
the government. He asked Mary to hold onto her apart- 
ment until we could find some foolproof way of getting 
our new person in. This was necessary, because housing was 
so scarce down there that a newcomer stood little chance 
of finding even a small room, and for our purposes it was 
better to have a place where I could stay overnight. 

[ *99 ] 

Helen Tenney, the new girl, was a Communist of long 
standing, who had been very active in Spanish organizations 
during the Civil War. She had been introduced to Yasha by 
Grace Granich of the Intercontinent News Service when it 
appeared she would be useful to us. Previously, she had 
worked in New York for an organization set up by the Of- 
fice of Strategic Services for the purpose of finding people 
of all nationalities who could be trained in sabotage and in- 
telligence and then sent abroad to carry on undercover 
work. Helen had been, quite valuable in that position. She 
had brought to Yasha the dossiers of all the prospective 
candidates so that we would know what type of people 
they were employing. 

It was arranged that Mary would keep the apartment and 
the telephone under her own name, using the pretext that 
one day she meant to return to Washington. Then she was 
to put a small ad in the New York Times on a certain day, 
asking for someone to sublet from her. When Helen’s letter 
came in, she was to accept her as the new tenant, disregard- 
ing any other offers that she received. This worked out 
very well. Helen got the apartment and we successfully 
avoided any tie-up between the two. 

Helen had been told to go to the Office of Strategic 
Services and apply for a position doing research work — a 
field in which she was well qualified. We thought that, with 
her good family background and her previous work with 
an O.S.S. subsidiary, she would stand a good chance of get- 
ting in. Moreover, we alerted one of our contacts, Maurice 
Halperin, who was in their Latin- American branch, so that 
when her application was O.K.’d he could ask to have her 
placed in his division. Things turned out quite differently 
from what we had planned, but from our point of view 

[ 200] 

vastly better. Helen went through the screening success- 
fully, but her knowledge of Spanish called her to the atten- 
tion of the “hush-hush” Spanish division, which promptly 
hired her as a research worker. Thus she was able to col- 
lect highly confidential material, which she brought to 
Yasha every two weeks or so when she came up to New 
York to visit her mother. 

Meanwhile, back in the summer of 1943 Yasha wanted 
to turn over to me a young Englishman who was then 
working for the British Intelligence Service. Cedric Bel- 
frage had been a Party member in Britain and after coming 
to this country got in touch with V. J. Jerome, who in turn 
put Belfrage in contact with Yasha. For some time Cedric 
had been turning over to us extremely valuable information 
from the files of the B.I.S., most of which I saw before it 
was relayed on to the Russians. I remember one large vol- 
ume of instructions to agents of British Intelligence which 
Yasha thought so good that we kept a copy of it in the safe 
at World Tourists, reading it occasionally for hints on 
undercover work. It was a most thorough manual: it gave 
minute directions on how to conduct a surveillance and 
how to avoid being tailed, and it even had a section on 
“breaking and entering” which had been “patriotically con- 
tributed by the burglars of Great Britain.” As I looked 
through it, I realized why the British Intelligence Service 
had long been known as a very excellent one. Obviously 
they knew their business from A to Z. One thing that 
stuck in my mind was their evaluation of motivations in 
choosing an agent. The best person, they said, was one 
who was motivated by patriotism or idealism, although if 
he became disillusioned he might be very hard to handle. 
Adventurers they brushed aside as being unreliable, while 

1 201 ] 

they considered “bought” agents as being very risky, be- 
cause someone else’s intelligence service could always offer 
them more money. 

Belfrage himself, Yasha told me, was an extremely odd 
character and rather difficult to deal with. Although pas- 
sionately devoted to the cause, he still considered himself 
a patriotic Britisher, and hence he would give us no infor- 
mation that showed up England’s mistakes or tended to 
make her a laughingstock. In addition, he was very nervous 
at what he was doing, and Yasha had all he could do to keep 
him in line. The prospect of taking over one more high- 
strung agent did not appeal to me, nor did I desire to tangle 
with the British Intelligence Service. I stalled the proposi- 
tion off for a few weeks; then fortunately something hap- 
pened that made any decision unnecessary. 

In the early fall, Cedric brought Yasha some highly con- 
fidential information, cautioning him as usual to be very 
careful with it. Yasha, in line with his agreement, showed 
the material to Earl Browder, who incautiously gave it to 
The Protestant, one of the Communist-controlled publica- 
tions. Immediately the data appeared in an article in such 
a form that the source could be readily identified by Ced- 
ric’s superiors. It was a bad slip. Yasha, seething with rage, 
hotfooted it down to Party headquarters to give Earl a 
talking-to and then went off to see Belfrage. He returned 
to look at me hopelessly. 

“Well, that’s that,” he said grimly. “We’ve just lost a 
good agent. Cedric is shivering with fright, and when I fin- 
ished talking to him he bolted off in a panic, saying that he 
would never come back.” 

“But why did Earl do it?” I asked. 

“Sheer stupidity,” he said angrily. “He didn’t think it 

[ 202 ] 

would do any harm. Wouldn’t you think that after all his 
years as a revolutionary he would know better?” Then, 
very grimly, “But I can assure you he won’t do anything 
like that again, not after what I said to him.” 

I could see now why Yasha was unwilling to have any 
part of the Institute of Pacific Relations. If even Earl was 
capable of committing such blunders, it was better for us 
to stay a long way off. Mildred had by then looked through 
the list of people she knew in the I.P.R. to see if there was 
anyone who could be useful to us. Her report was not 

“There’s Philip Jaffe, of course,” she said. “He edits 
Amerasia, you know. But I don’t think he’s safe to deal 
with, because he’s too well known as a Red. Of course, he 
could get information for you through some of his con- 
tacts, but frankly I don’t think it’s worth the risk.” She 
went rapidly through a list of other members, all of whom 
seemed unlikely to be of use because they were too red or 
too temperamental. 

I took this information back to Yasha and he said he 
would take it up with his Russian superior. But his mind 
was evidently on other things, for he spoke almost absent- 

“What’s the matter?” I asked. 

“The same old trouble,” he said despairingly. “The Rus- 
sians are making demands that I don’t like. They are not 
only insisting that Mary Price be turned over to them at 
once, but they want the Silvermaster group, too.” 

I looked at him puzzled. “I can understand why you 
don’t want to give Mary to them, in view of their plans for 
her, but why is it bad to put them in contact with Greg? 
After all, they won’t hurt him, and since he knows he is 

[ 203 ] 

working for the Russian Secret Police, there will be no dif- 
ficulty in switching him over.” 

He stared out the window, without answering; then he 
finally said, “You don’t understand. I’ve told you before 
that the Russians, having been steeled and toughened in 
a brutal war, do not know how to deal with Americans. 
They’ll ruin Greg! ” 

None of this sounded reasonable to me, and so I thought 
Yasha was exaggerating the situation. Certainly Greg, with 
his background of Russian revolutionary activity, ought to 
be able to cope with the N.K.V.D. I started to tell him so. 
Then, as I looked at his face, I was struck with another 

“You haven’t told me the whole story,” I said. 

“No, and I wasn’t going to,” he said despondently. 
“They also want to take you over as an intermediary be- 
tween the Silvermaster group and their man.” 

Anger seethed through me. They couldn’t take me away 
from Yasha. I wouldn’t let them do it! 

“Over my dead body!” I said violently, not realizing just 
how close to the truth I was. 

Yasha looked at me very tenderly, then his mouth set 
in a grim line. “No, golubishka , that’s one thing I won’t let 
them do. No matter what happens, I won’t let them take 
you away from me.” 

But the struggle over the fate of the Silvermaster group 
was a bitter one. Yasha would come home night after 
night, looking like a beaten man, and I would watch him 
with a growing rage in my heart. Once I forgot my caution 
and exploded in a burst of anger. 

“They can’t do that to you!” I said savagely. “Just let 
me at them and I’ll tell them a thing or two.” 

[ 204] 

“No,” he said quietly, looking at me strangely. “I don’t 
think that would be a wise thing to do.” 

“Oh, no?” I retorted. “Well, they may be able to kick 
other people around but they’ve never run into an Amer- 
ican. Ordinarily we’re peaceful people, but when we get 
mad, we can be plenty tough.” 

Yasha looked at me pityingly and seemed about to say 
something. Then he changed his mind and went over and 
turned on the radio. There was, I saw, no use in pursuing 
the subject, so I crawled wearily into bed and fell asleep. 

Soon afterward Yasha won a partial victory. The Silver- 
master group was to be turned over to a new Soviet con- 
tact but one who would not see it directly. I was to collect 
the material and turn it over to another courier, who in 
turn would give it to the new man. Also I was not to be 
taken away from Yasha, and I would be able to continue 
on helping him with the other agents in Washington. I 
greeted the news with a whoop of joy. Now things were 
going to be all right. 

“You see,” I said happily to Yasha, “you were imagining 
things. The Russians are intelligent people. Once you ex- 
plained the situation, they fell in with your ideas. Obviously, 
they’re only taking over the group to relieve the burden on 

He smiled faintly but said nothing. Perhaps he felt that 
it would be no use to explain the situation to me; perhaps 
his loyalty to the organization sealed his lips. I was soon to 
learn that my first optimism was unfounded, for his rela- 
tions with the Russians grew rapidly worse and worse. Day 
after day they steadily put the screws on him to turn over 
Mary, and wearily but doggedly he refused. 

Often he would come home taut and grim faced after a 


meeting with his Russian contact and would pace the floor 
silently, then throw himself on the couch and bury his head 
in his hands. Bewildered, I would sit beside him, unable to 
help, not knowing what was bothering him. I began to feel 
that I was in the midst of some hideous nightmare from 
which I couldn’t shake myself awake. What was wrong? 
Why wouldn’t he tell me anything? What could have hap- 
pened to shake a strong man like Yasha, who was afraid of 
nothing? I would find myself shaking with terror. Some- 
thing horrible was going on and I was helpless to fight it — 
indeed I didn’t even know what it was. 

Sometimes in the midst of his pacing Yasha would stop 
and stare at me savagely. Then in the tone of a man being 
tortured beyond his endurance, he would cry out, “If I turn 
traitor, turn me in!” 

I would quickly look away, because the sight of that 
naked suffering was more than I could bear. Even today 
those words return to haunt me, and the pain of remember- 
ing is deeper because now I understand what they mean. 
Had I known the truth then as I know it now, I could have 
helped him — or could I? In that awful moment when all that 
a man has lived for crumbles into ashes and leaves him 
standing alone in the blackness of disillusionment, can any- 
one stretch out a helping hand? 

It was much later on that I realized Yasha had been delib- 
erately driving himself beyond his physical endurance 
because for him death was a merciful solution to his di- 
lemma. The movement had been his entire life; he had given 
of himself unsparingly and without any thought of reward. 

Even though he came from a well-off Jewish family in 
the Ukraine, Yasha had early seen the suffering and misery 
of others. At the age of eight he had helped to distribute 

[ 206 ] 

Communist literature, knowing the penalty for so doing 
was jail. Not long after this he was caught and thrown into 
prison. One day the guards dragged all the revolutionaries 
out into the courtyard and shot them down. But Yasha, by 
then wise in the ways of the underground, fell to the 
ground and played dead for two days, until the outraged 
citizens of Ekaterinoslav stormed the jail and demanded 
the bodies of their sons. Released as the result of popular 
pressure, Yasha resumed his undercover activities, only to 
be arrested two years later. This time he was sent to Siberia 
and I remember his vivid description of how he walked 
those many miles with chains on his hands and legs. Once 
there, he was left, as all prisoners then were, in a remote 
village where the authorities thought there was no chance 
of escape. He was given a room in a private house and the 
chance to earn what money he could. It had been bitter cold 
in Siberia, especially in the winter, but Yasha didn’t seem 
to mind it. He used to tell me how he would sit in the house 
and listen to the sound of the howling wind playing weird 
symphonies on the telephone wires. 

All this time he was planning his escape, and not long 
afterward he made his way through the almost-impassable 
mountains to China, thence to Japan, where he spent a year. 
By then he had received word through the underground 
that his family had moved to the United States, so he smug- 
gled himself onto a ship and arrived safely on the West 
Coast. Through his parents he managed to obtain deriva- 
tive citizenship, since he was still a minor, and went on with 
his schooling. At the time the United States entered World 
War I in the spring of 1917 he had completed his medical 
training but staunchly refused to participate in an “imperi- 
alist war” and hence never received his M.D. degree. I re- 

1 207 ] 

member distinctly how the sinus specialist to whom I took 
him in the spring of 1941 when I was worried about his 
health looked at him thoughtfully and then shook his head. 

“I’m sure I know you,” he said. “You were in my grad- 
uating class at Columbia University Medical School, but I 
don’t remember your name.” 

When the Russian Revolution broke out in 1919, Yasha 
worked valiantly in this country to get support for the 
new Bolshevik regime. In the twenties he returned to the 
Soviet Union and did whatever he could to help establish 
a new society. His jobs ranged all the way from being the 
foreman of a coal mine in the most deserted regions of 
Siberia to being a member of the G.P.U.’s internal police 
force that maintained order during a very confused period. 
He was a friend of Lenin’s and worshiped him. I remember 
his telling me that he was warming himself in the railroad 
station of a remote village when the news of the Soviet 
leader’s death arrived. For a moment he was stunned. Then 
he walked over to the one window and, breathing on it and 
wiping the frost off with the sleeve of his tattered coat, he 
looked at the stacks of frozen corpses lying half buried in 
the snow, waiting for the freight train to carry them away. 

“Comrades,” he said, half to himself, “we have lost our 
old friend Vladimir Iliyich, and that is a loss we can never 
replace. He has seen us through many a bad time and now 
he is gone. But you, too, comrades, have died that we might 
build a better world. I swear to you, in the name of the 
cause which we have all fought and died for, that I will 
never rest until we have reached our goal.” 

One day Yasha ran into a “ghost,” as the N.K.V.D. called 
those former members who had left the Service but had 

[ 208 ] 

not as yet gone over to the enemy. He seemed visibly 
shaken by the encounter and returned home to tell me 
about it. 

“Poor devil!” he said compassionately. “He’s been in 
hiding for some time, terrified of his life. Finally, he got to 
a point where he had no more money to live on, so he tele- 
phoned me and asked if I would buy his old Contax cam- 
era. I agreed and arranged to meet him on a street corner, 
but he was so nervous that he circled the block five or six 
times to be sure I hadn’t brought anyone with me.” 

“Did you buy it?” I asked. 

“Yes,” he said. “Contaxes are scarce right now and we 
can use one. He literally grabbed the money out of my 
hand and dashed off, he was so terrified. He needn’t have 
been so upset. I wasn’t going to hurt him.” 

It was the middle of November and I decided to do my 
Christmas shopping early, so that I wouldn’t find myself 
caught in the last-minute rush. This was a formidable job; 
not only did I have my personal purchases, plus gifts for the 
employees of both World Tourists and the U.S. Service & 
Shipping Corporation, but I had to purchase presents for all 
our agents, Yasha’s as well as mine. For some strange rea- 
son, it was a tradition in the N.K.V.D. that at Christmas 
everyone who worked for them — no matter in what capac- 
ity — received a gift. None of our agents, of course, were 
paid salaries, nor were they given any money except cash 
to cover traveling expenses when they came up to New 
York to bring reports. As a matter of fact, it was they who 
were paying the Party, because they were assessed their 
Communist dues plus any special amounts solicited to help 
the international movement. Therefore, as a token of appre- 

[ 209 ] 

ciation, we made it a point to give each of them a nice pres- 
ent at Christmas. 

These varied in value and type according to the worth of 
the individual and his personal preferences. For example, 
Earl Browder always received several jars of Russian cav- 
iar and a bottle or two of scotch (all provided by the 
N.K.V.D.); Ra'issa received bottles of imported cognac, 
and Earl’s brother Bill several quarts of Canadian Club whis- 
key. The Silvermasters invariably received vodka and cav- 
iar, plus expensive personal gifts for each of them. Kazake- 
vich was given a steamer basket of fruit and jams from the 
Hicks store, and Joe North a basket containing several bot- 
tles of rye. Most of our other agents received only personal 
gifts, ranging between five dollars and twenty dollars in 
value, although Mary Price, at the height of her usefulness, 
was given a magnificent lingerie set that must have cost 

My first purchase was a personal one — a new wrist watch 
for Yasha, because his old one no longer kept good time and, 
in addition, was growing shabby. I remember wondering 
whether or not he would still be alive at Christmas time and 
thinking that perhaps I should give him his present right 
away so that at least he could have some pleasure out of it. 
Then I went on to get presents for my Washington agents, 
including some inexpensive toys for Maurice Halperin’s 

Laden with bundles, I staggered into World Tourists, to 
find Yasha in his office. I began opening the packages to 
show him what I had bought. When I came to the toys, he 
sat very quietly, staring at them with tears in his eyes. Then 
he pulled me down on his lap and put his cheek against mine. 

[ 210 ] 


“You know,” he said wistfully, “one of the things I regret 
most is the fact that we never had any children.” 

By now the Russians had evidently reached the end of 
their patience with Yasha. This time they issued an ultima- 
tum: either Yasha handed over Mary Price and agreed to 
carry out any future orders without quibbling or he would 
have to leave the Service and be considered a “traitor.” He 
must give his answer three days later when he met his Rus- 
sian contact. Yasha accepted this dictum listlessly. He was 
by now too beaten and tired to care very much. 

What his decision would have been, I never knew. To 
this day I wonder over and over again whether he would 
have found the strength to break away. Sometimes I think 
his conscience would not have permitted him to do things 
of which he did not approve; sometimes I believe that the 
pull of the past would have been too great and that he 
would have given up in despair. But he was mercifully 
spared the ordeal of deciding. On Thanksgiving evening, 
the day before he was to meet his Russian superior, Yasha 
quietly died. 

The night before, he was pensive and absent-minded. 
For the first time in his life he forgot to keep an appoint- 
ment with a very important contact. The next morning he 
slept late and hardly seemed to have the strength to get out 
of bed. I, too, was exhausted and battling with a bad cold, 
and we thought briefly of staying home and cooking a sim- 
ple meal. Then Yasha smiled at me wanly. 

“No,” he said finally. “Today’s Thanksgiving and I’d like 
to go out and have a superspecial meal with all the trim- 

[ 211 ] 

We had a late afternoon dinner at a restaurant opposite 
London Terrace and went to the movies. Afterward Yasha 
thought he ought to go home to his hotel, because he 
wanted to change into a suit that was hanging in the closet 
there. I looked at him, and with a terrible feeling of panic I 
realized that the end was at most only a few days off. He 
couldn’t be alone when that happened. I must be close to 
him. Hurriedly, I bundled him into a bus and we rode 

When we reached the drugstore a block from my house, 
he began to worry about our work. He insisted that I go 
into a phone booth and call Mildred Price to find out what 
was going on currently in the I.P.R. I refused, knowing that 
he was in no condition to think about such things. I even 
resorted to strategy and told him I was much too tired to 
bother with our work that day. He looked at me sadly and 
said the first cruel words that had ever passed his lips. 

“Why did I ever marry you?” he muttered bitterly. “I 
thought you would be a good, strong revolutionary and 
not a sissy.” 

I couldn’t answer him; I think if I had I would have burst 
into tears. In silence we reached the front door of my apart- 
ment house and he slowly and painfully climbed the one 
short flight of stairs that led to my apartment. Once inside, 
he lay down on the couch and turned on the radio listlessly, 
selecting a station that had a symphonic program. I busied 
myself in the bathroom, washing out his socks and my 
stockings. Soon, however, the program shifted to a jazzy 
one, which I knew he hated, and I went back into the liv- 
ing room to see if he wanted it changed. 

“Shall I find another station?” I asked. 

He only shook his head and closed his eyes, drifting off 


into sleep. I went back to the bathroom, changed into my 
pajamas, and set my hair in pin curls for the morrow. When 
I returned to the living room, he was sleeping peacefully. 
Completely exhausted myself, I stretched out beside him 
and must have dozed off for about an hour. 

I awakened suddenly with the panicky sense that some- 
thing was badly wrong. Then I realized that, although 
he still seemed to be sleeping peacefully, horrible choking 
sounds were coming from his throat. Frantically I shook 

“Wake up, Yasha,” I cried. “You’re having a bad night- 

He did not respond but still lay inertly on the couch, the 
same choking sounds coming from his throat. Remem- 
bering my Red Cross training, I dashed into the kitchen, 
returning with a bottle of brandy. I tried to force some of it 
down his throat but he seemed unable to swallow. Then my 
mind flashed back fifteen years to my mother’s last mo- 
ments. This was a death rattle that I was hearing. No, he 
couldn’t be dying! I wouldn’t let him! I grabbed for the 
telephone and dialed the operator. 

“Operator,” I shouted hysterically, “get me an ambu- 
lance quick!” 

“Just a moment,” she said calmly. “I’ll get you the 
Police Department.” 

Sickeningly, I realized that I couldn’t afford to get in- 
volved with the police. It was too dangerous to the move- 
ment. But I didn’t care then. My Yasha was very ill and I 
needed help. As I waited, the steady voice of the desk ser- 
geant at the Charles Street police station came on the wire. 

“What’s the matter, ma’am?” he asked. 

“A man has just had a heart attack,” I said, trying to keep 


my voice steady, “and he needs immediate medical atten- 
tion. Can you help me?” 

“Certainly,” he said reassuringly. “I’ll have an ambulance 
there right away.” 

I slammed down the receiver and frantically tore off my 
pajamas, meanwhile taking the bobby pins out of my hair. 
Yasha still lay there unconscious, making those queer 
sounds. As I threw my clothes on and tied my hair into a 
severe knot at the back of my head, I kept crying out des- 
perately to Yasha. 

“Hold on, darling,” I said in an agony of fear. “Just 
hold on for a few minutes longer. There’s help coming.” 

The buzzer downstairs rang and automatically I pushed 
the release button. Then I walked over to Yasha and looked 
down at him. He seemed to be still choking, but his eyes 
had rolled upwards, giving him a fixed, glassy stare. Me- 
chanically, without even thinking, I gently closed his eye- 
lids. There was a knock at the door and I opened it to admit 
two efficient-looking men in white from St. Vincent’s Hos- 

“Which of you is the doctor? ” I asked anxiously. 

“Neither of us,” said the stouter of them, cheerfully. 
“There’s a shortage of medics right now and we’re not 
sending out any internes on ambulance calls.” Then, seeing 
the look on my face, he added, “Don’t worry, ma’am, we’ve 
both had first-aid training and we can help you.” 

I looked at them horrified. Good God, I thought to my- 
self, I’ve had the same course of training that you’ve had, 
so what can you do that I can’t? Then I realized that the 
taller one had walked over to Yasha and was looking at 
him thoughtfully. Carefully he lifted his eyelids and stared 
at his eyes, then he listened to his heart. After a pause, he 


looked at his partner significantly, then picked up the tele- 
phone and dialed a number. 

“Hello,” he said. “Yes, it’s me. No, pal, it’s too late. He’s 
D.O.A. What’ll we do now? Wait for the police? O.K., see 
you soon.” 

He hung up the receiver and nonchalantly lit a cigarette, 
without speaking to me. Quite suddenly my knees gave 
way and I sat down on the nearest chair. I knew that phrase; 
how many times had my doctor uncle used it! D.O.A. — that 
meant “Dead on Arrival!” The room swirled around me 
but with an effort I steadied myself. Yasha was dead, I 
said to myself numbly. Never again would I hear his voice 
— never again would I come home to find him waiting for 
me! I gripped the arms of the chair and fought back a ris- 
ing hysteria. I wanted to give in to my feelings and sob my 
heart out. What did anything matter now that he was gone? 
Then I became aware that the two St. Vincent’s men were 
arguing with each other. 

“We’ve got to move the ambulance,” one of them said. 
“It’s parked in front of a fireplug.” 

“Oh, let’s wait till the police come,” said the other. 

The police! That spelled danger. Yasha’s pockets were 
full of vital material, including the coded telephone num- 
bers of most of his agents. It must not be found. Why am I 
thinking like this, I wondered dully. The man I loved is 
dead and for me life is over. What does all the rest of it 
matter? But to him it did; he had given his life for what he 
believed in. And I had promised I would carry on for him. 
I couldn’t let him down. Desperately, I forced myself to 
think clearly. 

“Why don’t you two go down and move the ambulance 
now?” I said, turning to the two men from St. Vincent’s. 


They shook their heads in unison. “We can’t leave you 
alone with the body. We’ll have to wait for the police.” 

Deliberately I pretended to misunderstand them. “Oh, 
please don’t worry about me. I can manage to stay alone 
for a few minutes.” 

They looked at each other dubiously. Then, with a sigh 
of relief, they went out the door. Hurriedly I bolted the 
lock after them, then swiftly, systematically I went through 
all Yasha’s pockets, abstracting the material and transfer- 
ring it to my capacious pocketbook. Frantically I tried to 
roll Yasha over so that I could get at his back pockets, but 
he was too heavy for me. 

Thinking fast, I realized there probably wasn’t much 
there except small items like key case and handkerchief, 
so I decided to abandon the search. I put my pocketbook 
innocently back in the same place on the bureau, then 1 
rushed to the door, unbolted it, and returned to sit on the 
same chair. I was none too soon, for immediately I heard 
the sound of their footsteps pounding up the stairs. When 
the hospital men saw that I was where they had left me, 
they showed their relief. It was later that I learned they 
were worried because they were not allowed to leave any- 
one with a corpse for fear he might steal valuables from the 

It was then about nine-forty-five. A few minutes later 
the police in the person of two large, friendly Irishmen ar- 
rived. The ambulance men told them briefly what had hap- 
pened and departed, muttering bitterly that they didn’t see 
why people had to die on Thanksgiving evening. The po- 
licemen looked at me sympathetically. 

“You look worn out, ma’am,” one of them said. “If you 


can just get in touch with his doctor, we can settle things 
up real fast.” 

At their awkward sympathy I found myself fighting 
back the tears. But I couldn’t go to pieces now. His doctor 
— what was his name? I couldn’t remember. Yasha’s old 
one had gone into the Army a year or so before, but what 
was the name of the new one? A wave of dizziness swept 
over me and the room seemed to rock. One of the police- 
men, spying the brandy bottle on the mantelpiece, hur- 
riedly poured some into a glass and handed it to me. 

“Better drink this,” he said brusquely. “You’ve had a 

I gulped it down and the warmth of it seemed to steady 
me. I thought furiously. Yes, now I remembered the name. 
I got unsteadily to my feet and dialed his number. His voice 
was irritated. 

“There’s no use in my coming down,” he said crossly. 
“The man’s dead, isn’t he?” 

I hung up in despair and stared at the policemen. What 
could I do now? There were no other physicians I could 
call except for Party men, whom it was unwise to drag into 
the proceedings. 

“I don’t know what to do,” I said confusedly, trying to 
keep my mind clear and make up a plausible story. “He was 
a business associate of mine. He had a bad heart, and being 
in the neighborhood he came here when he began to feel 

“Do you know any of his friends?” they asked. 

I thought frantically. I obviously couldn’t call Earl Brow- 
der, even though I had his telephone number. Jack Reyn- 
olds, I knew, was now back home after having had a siege 

[ 217 ] 

of virus pneumonia in a Bronx hospital. I would try him. 
There was no answer. In despair, I took a chance and tele- 
phoned Lem Harris in Chappaqua. No answer. Obviously 
on Thanksgiving evening no one was home. 

“How about his relatives?” the policemen asked. 

I knew little about his family, except for a brother-in- 
law who, I thought, lived in the Bronx. And at any rate, I 
didn’t have his phone number. Yasha had it in his desk in 
the office. What should I do now? I seemed unable to make 
my mind function. 

“Well,” said the larger of the two policemen, “we’ll 
just have to wait until the medical examiner comes so that 
we can get a death certificate. Then the body can be moved 
for burial.” 

Burial! Yes, Yasha would have to be buried. But there 
was no more Yasha, really. He had gone away somewhere 
and left me alone. That body lying there was not really he. 
I fought to keep from thinking about that while the min- 
utes dragged on. Finally, a plain-clothes man from the 
Charles Street station wandered in and asked me questions. 
When I told him Yasha’s hotel address, he sent some of his 
men over to the Hotel Madison to take charge of the ef- 
fects. An hour later they called him; when he hung up the 
phone he looked at me suspiciously. 

“Did you know that Golos wasn’t his real name?” 

Panic swept through me. I knew that his real name was 
Jacob Rasin but that some years before he had taken the 
name “Golos” (Russian for “voice”) for use in his revolu- 
tionary activities and had continued to use it openly. He 
had, I remembered, written under that pseudonym in the 
Novy Mir, the Russian Communist paper published in the 
early thirties in New York; once he had said he intended 


to adopt it legally but somehow had never gotten around 
to filing the papers. Would it be wise for me to admit that I 
knew this much? An old piece of N.K.V.D. instructions fil- 
tered through my mind: when in doubt, deny everything. 

“I’m sorry, lieutenant,” I said, and tried to make my 
voice sound bewildered. “I know very little about him. 
We were officers in the same company but I had practically 
nothing to do with him outside of that. However, I 
wouldn’t be surprised. I remember he once told me that he 
had been a writer and they often take pseudonyms, don’t 

The plain-clothes man relaxed and nodded. 

“It sounds logical,” he admitted. “I asked because we 
found a draft registration card in his hotel room under the 
name Rasin. But you’ve a problem on your hands. Some 
relative has got to authorize the transfer of the body to an 
undertaker, even when we get the death certificate. Your 
company can’t do it. Can you get in touch with his brother- 

“I can tomorrow,” I said. “His address and telephone 
number are in the office. But I doubt if the building is open 

“All right,” he said, relieved. “After the medical examiner 
is through, go ahead and call an undertaker. Then, first 
thing in the morning, call me up and give me both the name 
of the mortician and the telephone number of his relative. 
I think that will work out all right. Obviously, you can’t 
wait until tomorrow, and I don’t think there is any neces- 
sity for taking him down to the morgue among the un- 
claimed bodies.” 

I felt a surge of relief. I didn’t want Yasha’s body carried 
off to a city morgue and put on a cold slab among strangers. 

[ 219 1 

I wanted it taken care of by someone I knew and treated 
with friendly consideration. But what undertaker? At 
this point, the medical examiner sauntered in, clearly an- 
noyed at being dragged away from a party. 

“This is a hell of a time for anyone to die,” he said with 
irritation. “Why didn’t his own doctor bestir himself and 
come down here? It would have saved me a trip. What’s 
his name?” 

I fought back a sense of nausea. Yasha was lying there 
cold and still and helpless. I glared at the examiner and gave 
him the phone number. Just as he finished his call and 
started over to the couch where Yasha lay, the telephone 
rang again. This time it was Lem Harris. I explained the 
situation briefly to him without saying too much, and 
waited for his answer. 

“Don’t say anything on your end of the telephone,” he 
said tersely. “Just listen to me. Golos was a long-time mem- 
ber of the International Workers Order. They’ll make ar- 
rangements. Grace Hutchins, head of the Labor Research 
Bureau — a trusted comrade — lives around the corner from 
you. She’ll call them, and then as soon as she can get dressed 
she’ll be over. She comes from a good old American family 
so you needn’t worry about the wrong sort of person com- 
ing in to spoil the set-up. And, by the way, don’t bother the 
Reynoldses with all this. There are angles that they had 
better not know.” 

I thanked him and hung up. By then the medical examiner 
had filled out the certificate and was ready to depart, along 
with the police. As the door banged shut behind them, I 
realized it was now after one o’clock in the morning. The 
room was appallingly quiet. As I looked over at Yasha, ly- 
ing huddled in a heap underneath a blanket that had been 

[ 220] 

thrown over him, the whole impact of my grief suddenly 
hit me. 

“He’ll never speak to me again!” I cried out in my agony. 
“He’s gone away from me — gone forever!” 

Grimly I put my hands on the mantelpiece, gripping it 
tightly to control my emotion. Then the dikes seemed to 
give way and I put my head down and sobbed uncontrol- 
lably. Eventually, with an effort, I pulled myself together. 
Grace Hutchins would be coming soon and she mustn’t 
find me like this. I walked over to the couch and, gently 
pulling down the blanket, I stared down at the face of 
Yasha. He seemed so unutterably peaceful, with all the lines 
of tension erased from his face. At long last he had escaped 
from this mad world into blessed nothingness. He would lie 
quietly under some tree, a part of the earth again, and I was 
left to go on alone. 

A horrible sense of panic seized me. Now I must take his 
place and continue on without his wisdom and love to guide 
me. I was walking head-on into a ghastly nightmare and I 
had no way of knowing what lay ahead. I won’t do it! I 
said to myself desperately. No one can expect me to. I don’t 
know what’s going on but something is very, very wrong — 
something that killed my Yasha. Whatever it is, I’m not go- 
ing to be caught in it. I’ll drop this undercover work and go 
back to the open Party immediately. 

Yet Yasha had depended on me to carry on for him when 
he died. He would rest easy only if he knew that the work 
for which he had sacrificed himself would go on the way it 
should. Shame flooded over me. It was wrong of me to let 
myself be carried away by my own personal feelings when 
there were more important things at stake. No, I couldn’t 
leave now. I must stick it out until the future of our agents 

[ 221 ] 

was settled. Gently I bent down and kissed his cold fore- 
head; this was my farewell. 

“Goodbye, golubchik,” I said. “Rest peacefully now that 
your labor is over. With you goes most of me, for without 
you I am nothing. I won’t bother about elaborate ceremo- 
nies for you or expensive monuments, for you wouldn’t 
have wanted that. My memorial to you will be to carry on 
your work the best I can in the spirit in which you yourself 
would have done it. You have left me a legacy and I will 
not fail you.” 

[ 222 ] 


/after the I.W.O. undertakers had carried Yasha away 
in a canvas basket, I found myself standing in the midst of 
an empty apartment whose silence seemed to press in on 
me. Uncertainly I moved to the bathroom and looked at 
Yasha’s socks still hanging there; he would never wear them 
again, I thought dully. Then I returned to the living room, 
still moving as if in a dream, unable to decide what I should 
do next. Perhaps I should go to bed and catch a few hours’ 
sleep; there would be much to do tomorrow. But, exhausted 
as I was, I knew that I would only doze fitfully, waking in 
the clutches of a hideous nightmare. Numbly I walked over 
to a chair and sat down; the hands of the clock moved re- 
lentlessly forward. 

With a start I realized it was five o’clock; hurriedly I 
washed my face, brushed my hair, and put on my coat and 
hat. When I walked into the World Tourists building the 
sleepy elevator operator inquired why I was up so early. I 
quickly replied that my alarm had gone off way ahead of 
time and I had decided to get up anyway and pick up some 
work to be taken over to my office. Once in the office, I 
flew to the safe. Swiftly and methodically I stripped it of 
all incriminating documents. Into a suitcase, left in the of- 
fice for that specific purpose, I crammed all the papers and 

1 223 1 

about $1200 in cash; according to Yasha’s instructions — to 
be carried out in the event of his death — the documents 
were to be destroyed and the money was to go to Earl 
Browder. Then I took a taxi home. Methodically, I tore up 
the papers into small pieces and burned them in the fire- 
place, poking the flaming mass occasionally to be sure that 
everything was consumed. Then, when the ashes were cold, 
I leaned back wearily in the chair. If I could only keep on 
going a little longer! 

It was seven-thirty. I went to a nearby Childs restaurant 
and ordered a cup of coffee, then put through a call to Earl 
Browder in Yonkers. He answered the phone himself. 
Briefly I told him of Yasha’s death. 

“I must see you right away,” I said desperately. 

“Yes,” he answered. “Come down to my office at ten 
o’clock; I’ll leave orders for you to be admitted.” 

I went back to the table and drank my coffee half- 
heartedly, wondering whether I wasn’t going to be violently 
ill. The waitress, who had known me for some time, hovered 
over me solicitously. 

“What’s the matter?” she asked. “Something wrong?” 
“Nothing,” I replied. “I’m just tired, that’s all.” 

I dragged myself to my feet and went back to World 
Tourists; the worst task of all faced me — I must break the 
news of Yasha’s death to his employees. As I sat in his chair 
behind his desk, I shrank from the task before me; they all 
loved him so much — indeed it had been perhaps only his 
personality that had held this office together during the war 
years when it was so hard to keep personnel. 

The first employee in was a Russian girl who typed So- 
viet import licenses for us. She saw me sitting behind the 
desk and came toward me, her face white. 

[ 224] 

“Is something wrong, Miss Bentley?” she asked. “Where's 
Mr. Golos?” 

“I’m sorry, Edith,” I said gently. “I have bad news for 
you. Mr. Golos died last night; but don’t feel badly, he 
didn’t suffer.” 

She collapsed into the nearest chair and started to sob 
violently; as the others came in, I told them the news and 
they stared at me white-faced and unbelieving. 

At ten o’clock I arrived at Earl’s office on the ninth floor 
of Communist Party headquarters; the receptionist clicked 
the switch that released the gate, and I stepped in. Even 
dulled as I was by grief, I noticed that his greeting was the- 
atrical; he advanced to meet me, both hands outstretched. 

“Comrade Bentley,” he said in a tone worthy of a speaker 
on a rostrum, “this is a great loss to the movement! Our old 
friend Golos is dead, but we shall continue to go forward!” 

As he spoke he was leading me down a long corridor. At 
the very end we reached a neat, bare office with a desk, a 
few chairs, and three or four Revolutionary pictures on the 

“Is this your office?” I asked. 

He nodded and then, as if remembering something, 
looked cautiously around and led me out into the corridor 

“I think we’d better talk out here,” he whispered. “Un- 
doubtedly the F.B.I. has wired my office.” 

Briefly I told him what had happened. At the end, I 
handed him the $ 1 200. 

“Yasha wanted you to have this,” I said. 

He put it in his pocket absent-mindedly; then he turned 
to me. 

“This thing’s got to be handled with great care,” he said 


thoughtfully. “We can’t let Golos be too closely tied up 
with the American Party — it’ll wreck us. Leave the pub- 
licity to me; I’ll talk to Budenz. You’re taking Golos’s place, 
aren’t you?” he inquired anxiously. 

I tried to pull myself together; emotional strain, plus lack 
of food and sleep, was beginning to tell on me. But I 
couldn’t go to pieces now; there was too much at stake. 
What, actually, had been Yasha’s job? Come to think of it, 
I didn’t really know. Yet, now, I was in a tight spot; I had 
to answer. Suddenly one of the old Party maxims flashed 
through my mind: When in doubt, bluff — and keep on 

“Of course, Earl,” I said, in what I hoped was a calm tone 
of voice. 

He seemed relieved. “Good. Then you’ll be taking care 
of all the Washington comrades. I’m glad of that; I think 
you’ll be a good person to handle them. I don’t like the 
thought of our Americans being turned over to Soviet con- 
tacts; I told Golos that over and over again.” 

The corridor blurred before me; with an effort I steadied 
myself and tried to think straight. This was the theme that 
had obsessed Yasha during the last few months of his life: 
don’t hand the Americans over to the Russians. And now 
Earl, who seemed to be a fairly sane person, was saying the 
same thing. It couldn’t have been the imagination of a dying 
man; there was something seriously wrong! Earl was an old 
friend of Yasha’s; I could talk to him, and perhaps from him 
I could learn the truth. Then abruptly I checked myself; 
what had Yasha said about Earl? 

“He’s a good guy, golubishka, but he doesn’t know all 
that’s going on. Be very careful what you say to him.” 

With a sickening sense of fear, I realized there was no 


one on this earth who could help me; Yasha, who knew 
what was going on, was dead and beyond any cry for as- 
sistance. And here I was in the midst of a spider web, hold- 
ing all the threads in my hands and yet not knowing what 
pattern was being spun. Earl thought I knew all the an- 
swers; I couldn’t tell him of my ignorance. 

Yasha’s voice once more seemed to come to me: “Easy, 
darling, easy! Just use your brains, as I taught you to.” 

My brains! What brains did I have without him! Then, 
quite suddenly, I found myself thinking coolly and unemo- 
tionally. I wasn’t completely up on things, but it was a 
problem I had to solve alone, without help from anyone. I 
had inherited Yasha’s job — with all its difficulties and twists 
— but without his experience to guide me. That didn’t mat- 
ter, though; in my hands lay the fate of all our Washington 
contacts who depended on me. I could not let them down. 
They were human beings; more than that, they were my 
friends. I must use every ounce of brain power I possessed 
to solve this problem. Ignorant as I was, still I must find out 
the answer and, having done so, make the correct decision. 
Earl was a part of the decision; so far, he seemed to be on the 
right side of the fence. 

I eyed him appraisingly. “Will you back me up if I refuse 
to turn Mary Price over to the Russians?” 

He hesitated, then he nodded agreement. “I don’t think 
she should be turned over to them.” 

So far, so good. I turned to leave, but he stopped me. 

“We must have some foolproof means of communica- 
tion,” he said. “You can’t use your real name. Let’s call you 
‘Nancy.’ Hereafter, when you come to see me or telephone, 
I will be available — no matter whether I am in the most 
important of meetings.” 

1 227 ] 

Thoughtfully I walked down the corridor to the exit, 
thinking that Yasha must have been a very important person 
for Earl to be so subservient. Browder was the head of the 
American Communist Party and our leader; even though 
temporarily we were helping the Russians, we were still 
American comrades. It seemed odd to me that he was treat- 
ing me not only as an equal but almost with a shade of 
deference. I shook my head and tried to make sense out of 
the whole situation, but I was too weary to fit things to- 
gether. As I walked out the front gate, the receptionist 
waved cordially at me; I responded absent-mindedly, not 
realizing that such enthusiastic greetings were strictly re- 
served for the top people in the movement. 

Back in the office of World Tourists, the day dragged 
interminably on. Several times Grace Hutchins telephoned, 
asking what had happened to the contents of Yasha’s pock- 
ets; obviously she was worried about what the police had 
found. Warily, I answered that there were only the usual 
things that a man carried around, hoping to reassure her 
and yet not give any hint to a possible listener. The left- 
wing press arrived, one after the other — first Louis Budenz 
from the Daily Worker, who was careful to show no indi- 
cation of knowing me; then a man from the Communist 
Jewish paper Freiheit; then a staff member from the 
Communist Russian paper Russky Golos, an old friend of 
Yasha’s who was visibly moved by his death, and finally a 
representative of the New Masses. 

On Sunday afternoon the services for Yasha were held 
at the Gramercy Park Funeral Parlors on Second Avenue; 
the small chapel was jammed with friends, relatives, and 
high-up Communist Party functionaries. I sat halfway 
down on the right-hand side, flanked by two of World 


Tourists’ employees; two rows ahead of me I noticed Kaza- 
kevich and his wife, but I was too drugged with grief to take 
much notice of anyone else. 

It was the first revolutionary funeral I had ever attended; 
there was no mention of religion — it consisted mostly of 
speeches by comrades extolling the achievements of Com- 
rade Golos. Finally, Alexander Trachtenberg arose and 
launched into what I later learned was one of his customary 
long-winded orations. On and on he droned, while I 
clutched the sides of my chair until my hands ached; 
I forced back the tears in my throat — I mustn’t cry, I 
thought, I mustn’t! Then, ironically, I remembered what 
Yasha had said about Trachtenberg. 

“He’s just a windbag and a coward,” he had told me. “I 
kicked him out of my office and he hasn’t dared come back 

And this was the man who was standing up there, telling 
all of us how much he had loved Yasha! What a hypocrite, 
I said to myself. If Yasha could only hear, he would laugh 
over this. 

Finally the services were over. The procession of cars 
wound its way out to a remote cemetery at the far end of 
Long Island. As we drove along, I kept thinking to myself 
how unreal all this was; I couldn’t make myself realize that 
Yasha was dead. But there was the flower-decked hearse 
riding along peacefully up ahead of me. Tears came to my 
eyes as I remembered that Yasha had wanted to take his car 
out of storage and go for a long ride in the country just be- 
fore he died. This, then, was his ride, and he wasn’t here to 
enjoy it! 

At the cemetery the burial service was mercifully brief. 
Someone said a few words, then each of us dropped a rose 

[ 229] 

in the grave before it was sealed up. For a moment I looked 
at the vivid red of the flower in my hand, then let it fall 
gently onto the coffin. Out here he will be all alone and 
very cold, I thought; then I glanced at the name on the next 
tombstone — it was Misha Olgin, his old friend and comrade. 
Somehow I felt better; this was where he would have 
wanted to be. I turned and walked rapidly to the waiting 

It’s all over for you now, Yasha, I thought, wearily. 
You have at long last found peace. But for me, who knows 
what lies ahead? Had I but known what did lie ahead, I 
don’t think I would ever have had the courage to keep on 
going. What faced me, I was to discover, surpassed my wild- 
est nightmares. 

However, I determined grimly that I would straighten 
out the matter of the Washington contacts and then I would 
leave the whole undercover business and return to the open 
Party. It shouldn’t take too long to arrange for these Com- 
munists to be put in the proper hands; Earl seemed to have 
the same ideas that Yasha had had, and together we could 
convince the Russians that they must handle Americans in 
the right way. 

In this frame of mind I went to World Tourists and set 
to work to see that the business was running properly. The 
girls were still stunned by the news of Yasha’s death; they 
needed to feel that I was there to give them moral support. 
Around noon, Joe Brodsky — one of the members of the law 
firm that took care of World Tourists — came in to see 

The situation, he explained, was extremely complicated 
as regarded World Tourists; the company was actually 

[ 230] 

owned by the American Communist Party but it was regis- 
tered under Yasha’s name. Since he had left no will, the 
whole question of ownership would eventually end up in 
the courts, and that would leave the Party hanging out on a 
limb, since none of Yasha’s relatives were members of the 
Communist movement and probably would claim the estate 
for themselves. I looked at him thoughtfully; this was an 
unexpected difficulty. 

“What do we do now?” I inquired. 

“Just sit tight,” he replied. “You, as Secretary, can carry 
on the business, sign checks, and so forth, and meantime we 
will try to think out some angle on this matter.” 

He looked at the desk thoughtfully. “What’s in there?” 
he asked. 

“I don’t know,” I said. “Nothing much, probably. But 
the police have the keys and I can’t get in to find out.” 
“Well,” he said cheerfully, “I’m not an expert safe 
cracker, but I can always try. Get a screwdriver and we’ll 
force it open.” 

After we had wrenched the lock open, we sat down and 
went methodically through the contents of the drawers. 
As I had thought, there was nothing but material having to 
do with the business. Joe looked through the safe and made 
a bundle of all the papers that related to the legal affairs 
of the business, putting it carefully in his briefcase. 

“Don’t worry,” he said, as he took his hat and departed, 
“we’ll take care of everything.” 

That evening at eight o’clock I had a prearranged ap- 
pointment with my Soviet contact Catherine (who had 
replaced John) at the Newsreel Theater on 42nd Street, 
opposite Grand Central Station. I was sure that Catherine 


would not be alone; undoubtedly the Russians had heard 
of Yasha’s death and would send some high-up man to dis- 
cuss the situation with me. 

Five minutes after I had arrived at the Newsreel Theater, 
Catherine silently slid into the seat beside me. For a few 
moments we watched the film without speaking; then she 
put her hand on my arm. 

“Follow me out,” she whispered. “We have an appoint- 
ment to keep.” 

When we neared the corner of 51st Street, I saw her taut 
face brighten; I looked up the street to see a jaunty-looking 
man in his mid-thirties, his hat perched on the back of his 
head, approaching us. This, then, must be my new contact! 
As he walked up to us, Catherine greeted him with false 

“Hello, Bill,” she said. “Helen, this is your new boss, 

My new boss! I stared at him, noting his deep-set eyes 
like round brown shoe buttons, his high Slavic cheekbones, 
his straight dark hair that was only kept from falling over 
one eye by his hat. Certainly he must have spent plenty of 
money on that tailor-made suit and matching accessories. 
As I eyed him appraisingly, he slipped one hand under my 
arm and the other under Catherine’s. 

“You must be hungry, girls,” he said, with a decided Rus- 
sian accent. “Let’s go get some food.” 

Once inside Janssen’s, he insisted on ordering the most 
expensive items on the menu for himself and Catherine: 
caviar, oyster cocktails, broiled lobster. Although he 
pressed me to eat, I contented myself with a cup of coffee; 
I had already had a sandwich and besides, in the face of all 
this elegance, I could only think of poor Yasha who had 

[ 232 ] 

scrimped and saved and eaten only in cheap cafeterias. I 
don’t understand these people, I said to myself miserably, as 
I watched them eat their dinner with relish. Yasha told me 
that Communists should live simply and on a bare mini- 
mum, and he had certainly lived up to that precept; the only 
time we had gone to swank restaurants was when we were 
entertaining some of our contacts. 

When Bill had finished his dinner he sat forward in his 
chair, the air of camaraderie gone, the brown eyes hard and 
calculating. Suddenly I realized I had underestimated the 
man; despite his superficial appearance of a boulevardier, he 
was a tough character. 

“We want Mary and we want her immediately,” he said, 
and there was an indefinable menace in his voice. “We’ve 
put up with enough nonsense on this subject.” 

I was stunned. I had come to him expecting to meet a 
comrade and instead I was being treated like an enemy. 
What was going on, I said to myself; why did he behave 
like that? I remembered my revolutionary training; with 
an effort I kept my face expressionless and my voice steady. 

“I’m sorry,” I said calmly, stalling for time. “Earl doesn’t 
want her turned over.” 

He glared back at me. “Who the hell’s Earl? You take 
your orders from us.” 

I fought for self-control, as my thoughts swirled around. 
Obviously, he was just a young whipper-snapper whom the 
organization, for lack of personnel, had had to use. 

“I think you’ll find that it’s better to let the matter drop,” 
I replied, hoping I was saying the right thing. “Mary’s in a 
highly nervous state and she wouldn’t be any good to you 
right now.” 

As I spoke, I glanced over at Catherine, perhaps half 


hoping she would understand what I was trying to say; to 
my dismay her face was set and taut and there was enmity 
in her eyes. Startled, I looked back at Bill, to find that he 
was eyeing me savagely. With a sick feeling at the pit of 
my stomach, I realized that for some reason I couldn’t 
understand, I was face to face with two bitter enemies. 

Bill’s voice cut like a whip. “Let’s not argue the matter; 
we want Mary and we’re going to get her. And you will 
be wise to play along with us!” The menace in his voice 
was now unmistakable. “We’ve spent months playing 
around with that traitor Golos and now we’re going to set- 
tle this matter.” 

That did it! The bewilderment that had been clutching 
me disappeared; I was suddenly alive and alert. No one 
could say that Yasha had been a traitor; he had given his 
very life to the Revolution! Brother, I thought, I don’t 
know what is going on but something is very, very wrong, 
and I’m going to find out the score. And when I do find out 
the truth, I will do whatever is necessary to straighten out 
things — regardless of the consequences to myself. You’ve 
left me a legacy, Yasha, I said to myself, and it’s my job to 
carry on as you would have done. I checked the angry 
retort that I was about to make to Bill; from now on I 
would have to play this game the smart way, using every 
weapon I had at my command. 

“Don’t be so excited, Bill,” I said soothingly. “It takes 
time to work these things out, but in the long run every- 
thing straightens out very nicely. Just give me time to work 
on Earl.” 

With a flash of triumph in his eyes, he nodded; he thinks 
he’s scared me, I thought, but if he only knew! I said good- 
bye to Catherine and Bill, after having made arrangements 

1 2 34 l 

to meet them at the end of the week; then I headed for 

Exhausted, I fell into bed. As I was drifting off into sleep 
I seemed to hear Yasha’s voice, as though from a long way 

“Well done, golubishka,” he seemed to be saying. “Just 
remember that the only thing that’s important in this world 
is to do what’s right, regardless of the consequences.” 

Tomorrow would be another day. It might be difficult, 
but somehow I would have to take care of it as things came 
along. I smiled to myself and rolled over and went to sleep. 

On Thursday I went to Washington to see my contacts. 
I was barely able to catch the eight o’clock train in the eve- 
ning, the affairs of World Tourists kept me so occupied. 

It was after midnight when I arrived in Union Station 
and called the Silvermasters. Helen answered the phone, and 
the note of relief in her voice was obvious. 

“Thank God you’re here,” Helen said. “We read the 
news in the paper and we’ve been worried ever since; we 
would have come up to New York tomorrow if we hadn’t 
heard from you.” 

It was a sad group of people around the Silvermasters’ 
kitchen table; as we sat sipping tea, we talked about what a 
wonderful person Yasha had been. Helen and Greg had 
known him for many years; for them it was a very personal 
loss. But even Lud Ullman, who had met him only twice, 
felt the weight of the tragedy; somehow, in that short time 
he had come to feel that Yasha was one of his best friends. 
In silence, I handed over Greg’s instructions; he was too 
upset to make his usual protest. Lud carefully brought me 
the material to be taken back to New York; I took it and 
asked no questions. 

[ 235 ] 

The next two or three weeks were hectic ones. It was 
difficult enough to run two businesses alone and unassisted, 
but with the addition of the undercover work it was almost 
impossible. Moreover, during this period I was dashing 
around New York buying gifts for my contacts, racing 
madly against a deadline. I had been afraid I would meet 
opposition from Bill in this project; but strangely enough 
he seemed very happy about it. 

“Don’t spare the money,” he said cheerfully. “Get them 
the nicest things you can and, of course, we’ll foot the bill. 
Just keep the sales checks, hand them in to me, and I’ll 
refund the money pronto.” 

I pondered his seeming change of attitude. Not only was 
he completely friendly, but he made no further demands 
for Mary. Moreover, this state of peace and quiet continued 
over the holidays; when I met him just before Christmas, 
he gaily presented me with a red-flowered silk scarf that he 
had bought for me at Saks Fifth Avenue. 

“I hope you like it,” he said happily. “I chose it myself.” 

Looking at his smiling face, I decided I must have mis- 
judged him. At our first meeting we both had been under 
terrific tension: I, because I was nervously fatigued after the 
death of Yasha; and Bill, because his worries over the secu- 
rity of the organization had made him jumpy. This was 
understandable because he did not know how many incrim- 
inating documents in Yasha’s possession had fallen into the 
hands of the New York City police. Besides, Bill, never 
having met me before, did not know how much he could 
rely upon me. But now everything seemed to be smoothed 
out; soon I could turn over to him all my underground con- 
tacts and return to the open Party. 

On New Year’s Eve all the grief and loneliness that I had 

[ 236 ] 

resolutely put aside came back to haunt me. I closed the 
office and started home, bitterly aware of all the merry- 
making around me. Yasha and I had always had so much 
fun together on this evening; we had put aside our cares 
and laughed and enjoyed ourselves. I knew that I couldn’t 
face going to a party so I went home, fixed myself some 
supper, and crawled into bed. 

With the end of the holidays, I went back to my regular 
routine, hoping that I would soon be relieved of the burden 
of undercover work. 

Returning from a trip to Washington, just after the New 
Year, I went down to see Earl and show him the material 
I had collected, before passing it on to Bill. He read it 
through thoughtfully, gave it back, then leaned forward 
in his chair and looked at me appraisingly. 

“I’ve got another group to be turned over to our friends, 
but I want to be quite sure they’re in good hands. Will you 
take them?” 

“Our friends,” I knew, meant the Russians; that was the 
way Earl always referred to them. His trust in me was very 
flattering, I thought, but right now I hoped to get out of 
the undercover business, not get more involved in it. He 
noticed my hesitation. 

“I know you’re overburdened already,” he said, “and I 
wouldn’t ask you if it weren’t absolutely necessary. In the 
past, they were handled by John Abt and the material 
passed through me to Golos; now Abt is going to take over 
a fairly public position and it’s too dangerous to continue 
on that way. They’ve got to have a new contact.” He 
paused for a moment and then looked at me searchingly. 
“You know what the Russians are like; I can’t give the 
group over to them. You’ve got to take them!” 


I stared at him, wondering again what was in his mind. 
There was that same vague theme again: “you know what 
the Russians are like”; what did he mean by it? As far as I 
could see, they were no different from anyone else; cer- 
tainly Bill and I were getting along nicely now. I started to 
tell him so; then a strange sixth sense warned me to stay 
silent. There was no use arguing with him; I might as well 
take on the group and then get rid of them with the others 
when I had made the proper arrangements with Bill. 

“O.K.,” I said. “I’ll take them on.” 

But I was soon to learn that Earl had some cause for ap- 
prehension; that very evening, as I sat at dinner with BUI, 
he suddenly dropped his mask of spurious good fellowship 
and reverted to the cold brutality he had shown on our first 
meeting. With an undercurrent of menace in his voice, he 
demanded that I turn Mary Price over immediately; he had, 
he said, been patient long enough. When I tried to explain 
that she would be no good for the work, he cut me short 
abruptly; he lashed out at me vitriolically — demanding, 
threatening, even calling me a traitor. Bewildered and 
frightened, I dug my heels in and fought back; no one was 
going to force me to turn any contact over unless I thought 
it was the right thing to do. And from what I could see of 
him, he was certainly not the proper person to take care 
of anyone! The more I resisted, the more mercilessly he 
pounded at me, until I began to wonder just how much 
longer I could hold out under this treatment. When I left 
him that night, my legs were so weak I could hardly stand. 

This was to be the pattern of our future meetings; night 
after night, after battling with him, I would crawl home to 
bed, sometimes too weary even to undress. Now I knew 
what Yasha had faced and what was worrying Earl; these, 


then, were the Russians! No, I said to myself, these can’t 
be the real Soviet comrades. Bill, and for that matter Yasha’s 
contact, must be the petty ones, carried away by a sense 
of their own power. Undoubtedly their own superiors 
didn’t know how they were behaving; if I could only make 
contact with Moscow direct, I could get some action. But 
how to make contact? I didn’t know. 

Meanwhile, the only thing I could do was to stand firm 
and not allow any American Communists to be turned over 
to Bill, even though I was taking a fierce pounding in the 

By the middle of March, Earl completed arrangements 
for me to take over the new Washington group, at John 
Abt’s house on Central Park West. On a rainy afternoon 
I took the Eighth Avenue subway up to 103rd Street and 
walked to Abt’s address. No sooner had I rung the bell than 
he appeared in the doorway of his apartment — tall, lean, 
intelligent looking. 

“You’re Helen?” he asked. “Come on in; the boys are 

Seated around the living room were four men, Victor 
Perlo, Charlie Kramer, and two others. 

Perlo, spokesman for the group, explained to me that his 
people had good jobs in the government where they could 
obtain valuable information. As we got down to cases, it 
transpired that Perlo himself was a statistician with access 
to aircraft production; he was with the W.P.B. Kramer 
was working for the Kilgore Committee and could give us 
what he called “Capitol Hill gossip.” Of the other two, one 
worked also in the W.P.B. and could furnish data on planes, 
tanks, and guns. The second was headed for the Depart- 
ment of Commerce, but as he was not a well man, it was 


doubtful whether he could be of great value. Besides these 
four, there were several others who worked variously in the 
research department of the O.S.S., the Treasury, the F.E. A., 
and with the U.N.R.R.A. 

It seemed like an interesting group, and as I looked over 
the material they had brought, I recognized it as the same 
badly typed sheets of data that Yasha had been receiving 
from some source for several months. So this was where it 
had come from! Then I remembered who Perlo was; he 
was the bull in a china shop who had been worrying the Sil- 
vermaster group for a long time. 

Somehow he had discovered that George Silverman was 
a Communist, and he had been trying to get information 
from him; unfortunately, his methods were, to say the least, 
lacking in tact. Every so often he would march up to 
George and say to him, “Have you got anything for Joe?” 
— obviously referring to Joe Stalin. At this, George would 
take to his heels and flee in panic. While I was musing over 
this, Perlo suddenly said to me anxiously, “Is Joe getting 
the stuff safely?” 

A dead hush settled over the room; no one seemed to 
breathe. I glanced over at John Abt and saw the look of 
sardonic amusement on his face; then he stared intently at 
the floor. Carefully, I ignored Vic’s question and went on 
to make arrangements for our future meetings. 

In the meantime, the Silvermaster group was stepping 
up production and was giving us really valuable data. Lud 
Ullman had wormed his way into the good graces of 
high-up Air Corps officers in the Pentagon, and from them 
he was able to find out the date of D-day four days ahead 
of time; I remember his chuckling because he had been able 

[ 24° 3 

to win a bet from a fellow worker. “The guy didn’t have a 
chance,” he said. “I knew the date and he didn’t.” 

Around this time he also brought me samples of the 
marks the United States was preparing for use in the Ger- 
man occupation. The Russians were delighted, as they were 
planning to counterfeit them. However, due to a compli- 
cated ink process this proved impossible — until I was able 
through Harry Dexter White to arrange that the United 
States Treasury Department turn the actual printing plates 
over to the Russians! 

Evidently these activities of the Silvermaster group inter- 
ested the Russians very much, for by spring Bill had shifted 
his point of attack and, dropping the subject of Mary Price, 
launched into a stormy demand that Greg be turned over. 
I refused and, with Earl backing me up, continued to battle 
against any such idea. Bill, evidently unable to get any fur- 
ther in the matter, finally said he would settle for just one 
meeting with Greg; after that, he assured me, I could carry 
on as contact. 

“After all,” he said reasonably, “he’s one of our most 
valuable people and I would like to have a look at him.” 

Dubiously, I consulted EarL He thought the matter over 
and halfheartedly agreed. 

The evening Greg and I met Bill for dinner at Long- 
champs restaurant at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue was an 
occasion I shall never forget. Bill was in his gayest mood 
and went out of his way to charm Greg. He insisted that he 
have the most expensive of meals, complete with wine; he 
flattered him on the work he was doing, implying that 
he was one of the pillars of the Soviet Union. I watched 
him cynically, thinking of the real Bill that lay beneath all 
this veneer of good fellowship. 

[ H 1 1 

After we had finished dinner, Bill insisted on taking us to 
a night club — Leon & Eddie’s; I protested ineffectually. 
Yasha had told me over and over again not to take any con- 
tacts to such places; not only did it give them a taste of high 
living that might ruin their value as Communists but night 
spots were known to be watched by the F.B.I. Bill grasped 
Greg and me by the arm as he headed for a cab; he laughed 
derisively at my objections. 

“Look at our little puritan,” he said to Greg mockingly. 

I bit my lip and said nothing; indeed I was silent the rest 
of the evening while Bill plied Greg with drinks and told 
him what a wonderful person he was. It was a nauseating 
performance, unworthy of a true revolutionary. How 
could the Russians send such men to the United States to 
work with our American comrades? Thank goodness, there 
was to be only one meeting; if Bill continued to see Greg, 
he would most certainly succeed in corrupting him. 

For our next two meetings, Bill was unusually quiet and 
peaceful; he was undoubtedly up to something. I was soon 
to find out. One day, almost drooling with arrogance, he 
said, “Earl has agreed to turn Greg over to me.” 

I stared at him with a sinking feeling. 

“I don’t believe it!” 

“Go and ask him,” he replied, tauntingly. “You’ll find 

The next day, as I faced Earl across his desk, he refused 
to look me in the eye. 

“I’ve told our friends that they can have Greg,” he said. 

“But why did you do it, Earl?” I cried out. “You know 
what the Russians are like. They’ll ruin Greg.” 

He shrugged his shoulders and carefully looked at the 


“Don’t be naive,” he said cynically. “You know that 
when the cards are down, I have to take my orders from 
them. I just hoped I could sidetrack them in this particular 
matter, but it didn’t work out.” 

“But Greg’s an old friend of yours,” I said accusingly. 

“So what?” he replied. “He’s expendable.” 

Blindly I stumbled out of his office. Once in the street, 
I walked aimlessly, unaware even that it was a very hot day 
and that the sweat was dripping down me. I tried to com- 
prehend what had happened. Why had Earl behaved like 
that? Why, knowing how ruthless Bill was, had he per- 
mitted his old friend Greg to be turned over to him? All 
along he had backed me up in my determination to protect 
our American comrades and now, suddenly, he didn’t seem 
to care anymore — indeed, he was completely cynical about 
their fate. 

My head began to ache from the heat; I walked into a 
nearby drugstore, sat down and tried to sort out my 
thoughts. What was it that Earl had said? Oh, yes — that 
he “had to take orders from the Russians.” But that, of 
course, was absurd. Yasha had told me that every Com- 
munist Party in the world was autonomous and made its 
own decisions. So Earl, then, was lying to me. But why? 
Why should he have made such an abrupt about-face and 
then contrived such a fantastic tale to account for his 

Slowly I lit a cigarette and considered the matter. There 
could only be one logical answer. Earl wasn’t the great 
idealist we had believed he was; he was indeed only a low 
conniving politician who was out for himself. Somehow, 
for reasons that I didn’t know, he must have made a private 
“deal” with Bill to his own advantage. Revulsion swept over 


me. So this was Earl Browder — not the glorious leader of 
our American Party but a cheap, tawdry figure. He had put 
up such a wonderful front, hadn’t he? He had given the 
impression of a true revolutionary — a brave, noble soul who 
would stand unswervingly for his own principles! I wished 
bitterly that all the American comrades could see him for 
what he really was. 

I snubbed out my cigarette and sat for a moment staring 
into space. Earl was a disgrace to the American movement; 
I must report all this to someone on the Central Committee 
so that they could do something about the situation. But to 
whom could I go? There was, of course, William Weiner, 
the head of the Party’s Finance Committee, with whom I 
had dealt in connection with the future reorganization of 
World Tourists. He was a short, fat man with scanty red 
hair, a deceptively peaceful face and shrewd eyes behind 
thick glasses. I had not been impressed by him; indeed, I 
had felt that he was pretty much of an opportunist and out 
for himself. And besides, what had Yasha said about him? 
“Look at Willy,” he had said with contempt. “He’s no 
revolutionary. I suffer from as bad heart trouble as he does, 
but I don’t spend months in Florida in the winter. He says 
that he’s saving himself for the cause, but he’s preserving 
himself so well that he’s no use to anyone.” 

Certainly, then, Weiner wasn’t the person to approach. 
And of the rest? Rapidly I went through the list of names 
in my mind. Come to think of it, Yasha had been pretty 
contemptuous of them, too, although at the time I had dis- 
missed his infrequently expressed feelings as purely profes- 
sional jealousy. But now these half-forgotten and unex- 
plained comments of his began to form an ominous pattern. 

[ 2 44l 

Just what had he said? It was important to remember, be- 
cause it was all that I had to rely on now. 

“I wouldn’t give two cents for any of that bunch, golu- 
bishka” he had repeated savagely. “The only one that’s 
worth anything at all is Earl and even with him I have to 
be careful.” 

So these barbed comments hadn’t been due to professional 
jealousy, aggravated by ill health and overwork. He had, 
in these off-guard moments of his, told the real truth about 
the leadership of the American Communist Party, although 
I had been too blind to see it at the time. With sickening 
finality I felt the facts click into place. Yasha hadn’t ad- 
mired Earl as the best of a good group of revolutionaries; 
he had merely accepted him resignedly as the least unscru- 
pulous of a bunch of weak-kneed opportunists. And that 
meant, in fact, that the leadership of our American Party 
was no good — that all my comrades were being betrayed. 

Wearily I put my head on my hands, my initial rage 
giving way to a feeling of complete despair. Our American 
movement has been sold down the river, I thought deso- 
lately, and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it 
Certainly if Yasha, who had been a high-up Party official, 
had been helpless to remedy the situation, then there just 
wasn’t any hope. Perhaps one day there would be a decent 
Communist movement in this country, but at the moment 
it didn’t look like it. Well, I for one wasn’t going to stay 
in the American Party any longer, knowing what I did 
about its leadership. I would stop paying my dues and get 
out. . . . 

But what would I do about my Washington contacts? 
They had been entrusted to me by Yasha and I couldn’t lei 

1245 3 

them down. I would have to do something and do it fast. 
Bill had already succeeded in taking Greg Silvermaster over. 
How could I prevent him from taking over Mary Price 
and all the others, when and if he demanded them? Earl 
wouldn’t stand by me — and certainly none of the rest of 
the top American leaders would either. I was really alone 
now and I had to fight on without help from any quarter. 

I got to my feet. My mind was made up. I was mixed up 
in this business and it was my responsibility to straighten 
it out before I admitted defeat. I owed it to Yasha who had 
died fighting; I owed it to my contacts who relied on me. 
Somehow I would carry the matter to the top level of the 
N.K.V.D.; I would try to see the head of the Russian Secret 
Police in this country. He surely would be one of the old 
Soviet revolutionaries and a true Communist; after hearing 
the facts, he would most certainly take action. Meanwhile 
I would continue to see Bill, and await my chance to put 
this project into effect. 

Not long afterward I met Bill for dinner at Schrafft’s on 
Fifth Avenue near 46th Street, and later on we took a long 
walk down to South Ferry. On the way he suggested that 
I take a salary from the N.K.V.D., as he was doing. It 
would, he said, augment my income and enable me to live 
more comfortably. 

“How about $50.00 a month?” he asked. 

I stared at him in surprise. Why should he offer me a 
salary when my income was adequate for my needs? I shook 
my head but he persisted. 

“Well,” he said suavely, “if that’s not enough, how about 

When I again refused, he raised the offer to $200.00 and 
finally to $300.00 a month. Just what is going on, I won- 

[ 246 ] 

dered; could it be that they are trying to bribe me? I turned 
on Bill in a fury. 

“What kind of a racket is this where they pay you for 
doing your duty?” I demanded. 

For a moment he looked as if I had struck him in the face; 
then he looked away and said nothing. But this did not end 
the matter. After several long battles on the subject of my 
accepting a salary, Bill shifted his point of attack. He was, 
he said, in the fur business. He would like to present me 
with a Persian-lamb coat. When I turned him down on this, 
he came up with the idea that he wanted to get me an 
air-conditioning unit for my apartment. He was, he said, 
worried about my bad sinus trouble. 

So they are trying to buy me off, I said to myself bitterly, 
and that means that not only is there something very wrong 
with the American Party but with the entire international 
Communist movement. But there can’t be, I thought des- 
perately. Yasha wouldn’t have given his life for a shabby 
thing like this. And yet, all those horrible struggles he had 
gone through during the last days before his death. . . . 
Then, still not willing to believe the ugly truth, I turned to 

“Bill,” I asked, “is this your idea or were you told to do 

He looked away from me. “No, it wasn’t my idea. I 
never do anything on my own.” Then, very bitterly, “I’m 
only small fry; they can kick me around all they want to.” 

Maybe he’s lying, I thought finally; perhaps it’s his own 
mean little idea and he’s passing the buck to his superior. 
But I must find out the real truth; I must get to the top 
man in the N.K.V.D. as soon as possible. Then I would 
know the answer. 

[ 2 47 1 

The summer of 1944 dragged on; in my weariness and 
loneliness and growing disillusion, it seemed an endless 
procession of dreary days. I still missed Yasha terribly; even 
though I tried to put my mind on other things, he still was 
in my thoughts. Sometimes it was hard to believe he was 
dead; I would catch myself thinking, I must go home and 
tell Yasha about this, and then the realization would come 
that he was gone forever. Now and again something the 
Silvermasters would say brought back the same old grief; 
at other times, familiar scenes where Yasha and I had been 
so happy would catch at my throat. And always, at night, 
there was that empty apartment — with no Yasha waiting 
for me. I’m only half a person without him, I thought; how 
can I go on? 

On the day of the 1944 hurricane I went down to Wash- 
ington to collect the Silvermasters’ material for the last 

Our meeting was a very sad one; we ate our dinner al- 
most in silence — no one seemed to be able to find anything 
to say. I went over their material briefly, then I reminded 
them that Bill would be expecting Greg in New York the 
following week. Silently we stared at one another, and in 
their eyes I read the same thought that was in my mind. 
This was the end of the good old days — the days when we 
worked together as good comrades. Now we were parting, 
I to go one way, they another — into an unknown and ter- 
rifying future. Even for them the life of their group would 
never be the same again; the Russians had decided for safe- 
ty’s sake to break it up and put each member in contact with 
a Soviet agent. 

I got to my feet and said goodbye, trying hard not to 

[ 24 s 1 

show my feelings. Then I stumbled to the door and walked 
out of the house. 

Back in New York, I got their material together, adding 
to it the data from my other agents, and went to meet Bill. 
Wearily, I handed over the package and stood looking at 
him. He smiled and for the first time I saw what seemed 
like pity in his eyes. 

“Goodbye and good luck,” he said gently. “Remember 
you are to meet your new contact in two weeks.” 

In early October I went to meet this new contact in front 
of a drugstore on Park Avenue in the fifties. I was to carry 
a copy of Life magazine and wear a red flower. As I waited, 
I scanned the street both ways, but I couldn’t see anyone 
headed my way. Suddenly from behind me a voice said, 
“Hello, Helen; Bill sends his greetings,” and a hand grasped 
me by the elbow and propelled me down the street. I caught 
my breath and tried to steal a glance at him, but it was not 
until we reached the next comer and he stopped and faced 
me, that I was able to get a good look. Even then I had 
difficulty in assimilating his appearance so that I would 
know him when I saw him again. He was, I think, the most 
completely colorless and nondescript person I had ever seen; 
he could have faded into any crowd and never been noticed. 
His gray suit and hat were neither too shabby nor too new; 
there was nothing remarkable about his face except for the 
alert eyes — whose color I did not even notice — and the hint 
of strain at the mouth. This, I said to myself, is the most 
perfect undercover agent I have ever seen. He looked at me 
sharply. “Let’s go up to Central Park and find a bench and 
sit and talk.” 

His English was as good as mine; there was even a touch 

[ 2 49 ] 

of Brooklyn about it. Could he be a Russian? I asked him 
if he spoke Russian; he smiled and said he didn’t. 

“You know,” I said casually, “the Russians used to call 
me umnitsa .” 

He rocked with laughter and I smiled to myself; he cer- 
tainly knew Russian; no one who didn’t know the language 
could have got the implications of that word. Then ab- 
ruptly he stopped and glared at me, realizing too late that 
I had trapped him. 

“All right,” he said grimly. “You caught me on that one; 
but I’m not a Russian — I’m a Lithuanian and proud of it.” 

Seated on a bench, he turned on me fiercely. “Now let’s 
discuss what we’re going to do with the rest of your con- 

But I was ready for him. “I’m not going to discuss any- 
thing with you,” I said, my jaw set. “You put me in touch 
with the head of the outfit and I’ll talk to him.” 

He pounded at me mercilessly, using most of Bill’s tactics 
and a few more besides, but I refused to budge. Finally he 
agreed to make arrangements for me to meet the “big boss.” 

“He’s just been sent over to straighten out the organiza- 
tion,” he said. “We are now getting modernized and on a 
more efficient basis.” 

I was, he explained, to continue seeing him every two 
weeks in order to deliver the material, but periodically I 
would consult with the new man, “Al,” on policy matters. 
Next Wednesday night I would meet him in Washington 
at a drugstore on Wisconsin Avenue and N Street; I was 
again to wear a hat with a red flower and carry a copy of 
Life magazine. 

As I rode down to Washington on the train that after- 
noon, I felt that at long last I was nearing my objective. 

1 250] 

Now, finally, I was about to meet the top man in the Soviet 
Secret Police, and from him I would learn the answers to 
all the questions that had been torturing me for the past 
several months. What sort of person would he be, I won- 
dered. Would he be a good old revolutionary like Yasha, 
or someone like Bill? For a moment the fears which I had 
carefully buried in my mind came back to haunt me. I be- 
gan to wish desperately that I had never set out on this 
journey. Then I steadied myself. I’m being very silly, I 
thought; how do I know what kind of man I’m going to 
meet? He will probably turn out to be a very good person. 
After all, I had met other representatives of the Soviet Un- 
ion in the past and had been tremendously impressed by 
them. I remembered back to the summer of 1936 when I 
had had a position as councillor in the camp set up for 
the children of Soviet nationals in this country. There, on 
parents’ visiting days, I had met many of the old Russian 
revolutionaries and had liked them immensely. I had been 
convinced then that the future of humanity could be safely 
entrusted to people like these. 

I lit a cigarette and stared out the window. You are being 
silly, I said to myself firmly. You’ve been judging the Rus- 
sians by small people like Bill who tried to throw their 
weight around and show off. The real leaders of the Organi- 
zation will be like Yasha and the other old revolutionaries 
you have known. Reassured, I settled down in my seat and 
began to read a magazine. 

I waited for what seemed an interminable time on the 
appointed corner, but as the minutes dragged by, I began to 
be frightened again. Why hadn’t he come? What was 
wrong? Just as I looked at my watch for the twentieth time, 
I heard a voice with a distinctly British accent say behind 


me, “I’m sorry that I’m late.” I turned swiftly and found 
myself face to face with a short, fattish man in his mid- 
thirties, with blond hair brushed straight back and glasses 
that failed to mask a pair of shrewd, cold eyes. Dubiously 
I stared at him, noting his appearance of well-fed flabbiness, 
his well-tailored and expensive-looking clothes. Could this 
be the man I was to meet? 

His sharp eyes never left my face. “I bring greetings from 
Moscow,” he said expressionlessly. “And now I think we 
should have our dinner.” He glanced at his watch and his 
voice became icy. “It is now exactly 8:31. Due to the stu- 
pidity of one of my subordinates, I went to the wrong place 
and hence both of us have had to go hungry for an un- 
necessary half hour. I am not used to such inefficiency; the 
man who committed this blunder shall be made to pay for 
this mistake.” 

My heart sank. This, then, 'was the man that I was sup- 
posed to meet. This was the head of the Soviet Secret Police 
in this country! I became uncomfortably aware that he was 
watching me intently with those steely, unwavering eyes. 
Did my disappointment show in my face, I wondered des- 
perately, and forced myself to smile. 

“Where would you like to eat?” I asked steadily. 

“Anywhere that is not near the Soviet Embassy,” he said. 
“After all, \ onm high official there and I should not like to 
meet anyone I know.” Then, as I hesitated, trying to think 
of a suitable place, “I do not understand why you did not 
arrange all this in advance; 1 cannot be expected to bother 
with such trifles.” 

My hands clenched at my sides and I fought for self- 
control. “We’ll go to Naylor’s on the waterfront; at this 
hour of the evening there won’t be many people.” 


A cab was cruising on the other side of the street and, 
ignoring the heavy traffic, A1 dashed over to hail it. When 
I joined him a few minutes later, he eyed me coldly. 

“You have kept me waiting,” he stated. 

With an effort, I choked down the angry retort I was 
about to make; it would not be wise to antagonize him at 
this point. 

“Look,” I answered reasonably, “you can’t go running in 
and out of Washington traffic like that. You’ll get yourself 

His expression did not change. “No one can kill me,” he 
asserted flatly. “I’m indestructible.” 

I started to laugh hysterically and then caught myself 
abruptly at the look on his face. He’s not joking, I thought 
horrified; he really believes what he’s saying. This man hon- 
estly thinks he is above the forces of nature! 

Once seated at a table in Naylor’s, A1 summoned the 
waiter imperiously, brusquely gave our order, and then lit 
my cigarette and his with an expensive-looking gold lighter. 

“I hope the food is good,” he said thoughtfully. “Amer- 
icans are such stupid people that even when it comes to 
a simple matter like cooking a meal, they do very badly.” 
My face must have gone white, for he suddenly looked at 
me with the impersonal interest of a scientist viewing a germ 
under the microscope. “Ah, yes, I had forgotten for the 
moment that you, too, are an American. But then you are 
very different from the rest of your fellow countrymen — 
you, at least, have brains.” He paused for a moment as the 
waiter placed a lobster cocktail in front of him. “And now, 
shall we concentrate on our meal? The business can come 

Numbly I watched him pick up his fork and charge 


woifishly into his lobster. I wondered whether I would be 
able to get any food down me, and, if so, if it would stay 

At the end of the meal, he threw his napkin on the table, 
lighted a cigarette, and looked at me thoughtfully. 

“And now let us get down to business,” he said. “I’ve 
known all about your work for the last two years.” Then, 
as I looked puzzled, he explained: “I’m the man who sits 
behind the desk in Moscow and keeps track of the reports.” 
He smiled suddenly but his eyes remained cold and watch- 
ful. “In fact, I 1 ve been sent over here especially to see you 
and tell you that we all think you’ve done splendidly and 
have a great future before you.” 

A shiver of fear ran up my spine. What was coming now? 

To my astonishment, he drew himself up stiffly in his 
chair and looked at me seriously. 

“You are very fortunate. A great honor has just been 
bestowed on you. The Supreme Presidium of the U.S.S.R. 
has just awarded you one of the highest medals of the Soviet 
Union — the Order of the Red Star.” 

I stared at him. 

“The Red Star,” I said dazedly. 

“I don’t blame you for being overwhelmed,” he said. 
“It’s an honor that few people receive.” He pulled a clip- 
ping, in color, from his pocket. “This is a facsimile of the 
decoration,” he said precisely. “The original will arrive 
very shortly. But you can take my word for it that this 
medal is one of the highest — reserved for all our best fight- 

I was thoroughly angry. Now I knew the score! The 
work that I had done for the cause had been small and 
unimportant and he, of all people, should know that fact. 


And here he was offering me one of the highest medals of 
the Soviet Union! It wasn’t just Bill, I said to myself; it’s the 
Organization itself that’s trying to buy me off. First, they 
tried money, then a fur coat, then an air-conditioning ma- 
chine — and now this! 

I fought down a hysterical desire to laugh. So, after all, 
it was only a dirty racket and not an idealistic movement. 
The Russian people were fighting and dying on the front, 
but they weren’t getting any medals. No, these cherished 
little bits of tin were being used to bribe Americans like 
myself. I realized suddenly that A1 was gazing at me fixedly. 

“The Red Star entitles you to many special privileges,” 
he was saying; “you could even ride on the street cars free.” 
He stopped for a moment; then, seeming to sense that I was 
not too impressed by this, he went on: “Besides, you are a 
member of the most powerful organization in the Soviet 
Union; we are the ones who really rule the country. Just 
wait until you pay a visit to Moscow; you will be wined 
and dined and treated like a princess. We know how to 
reward our people for what they have done.” 

A wave of revulsion and nausea swept over me; I thought 
for a moment I was going to be violently ill. Hastily I pulled 
on my coat and got to my feet. 

“I’d better leave now, Al,” I said unsteadily. “I’m afraid 
I’ll miss the last train.” 

As he handed me into a cab, Al took my hand and kissed 

“Goodbye, darling,” he said. 

I didn’t answer, for I think if I had I would have spit in 
his face. So this was what the top leaders of the Communist 
world movement were like! A slow rage crept into me; I 
knew then what I was dealing with. We have all been 


fooled, I said to myself; we thought we were fighting to 
build a better world, and instead we are just pawns in an- 
other game of power politics, run by men who are playing 
for keeps and don’t care how they get where they’re going. 
It was for this shabby thing that Yasha fought and gave his 
life — now I knew the answer to the awful struggle he had 
gone through the last days of his life. He had discovered 
what was really going on, but he was too broken then to 
want to live any longer. They had killed him, these people, 
killed one of the most decent people that had ever lived! 

Blindly I paid off the cab driver and walked into Union 
Station; I didn’t care now where I went or what I did. In- 
deed, I didn’t seem to mind whether I lived or died; every- 
thing that I had fought for was a hoax and a sham. 

Automatically I settled myself down for the night, but 
my mind kept ticking relentlessly on. There wasn’t any hope 
for us American Communists. Not only was the interna- 
tional movement completely rotten but even if we were 
able to kick the cheap politicians like Earl Browder out of 
the American Party, we would not have achieved anything. 
After all, just what was our Party? Not an autonomous 
movement that had as its aim the bringing of Communism 
to the United States, but only a poor, puny little adjunct to 
Moscow. Earl hadn’t been lying when he said that he “had” 
to take orders from the Russians. A1 had made that com- 
pletely clear. I remembered back to the conversation we 
had had about Juliet earlier that evening. When I told him 
how much I disliked her and then asked what had happened 
to her, he laughed humorlessly. 

“She’s six feet under,” he said as calmly as if he had been 
asking for another glass of water. “That’s what happens to 
all traitors.” 

[ 256 ] 

But he had not finished. “You know,” he went on 
thoughtfully, “your reaction to her is a very interesting one. 
It proves exactly what I have always maintained: that we 
must understand Americans better and handle them very 
carefully. In the old days, we did not realize that Americans 
are all sentimentalists and that we must sugar-coat the pill 
before giving it to them. Now we are doing better in our 

“Recruitment?” I asked, uncomprehending. 

“Of course,” he said impatiently. “The Soviet Union is 
in a bad position in regard to finding undercover agents; 
unlike the British Empire, which can call on any of its na- 
tionals abroad, we don’t have many Russians who are sym- 
pathetic to the new regime. Of course, we can always buy 
people — and we do when necessary — but it is better to have 
people with the right ideology. That’s the function of the 
American Communist Party; it’s the reservoir from which 
we draw most of our agents.” 

This is the end of everything, I said to myself hopelessly, 
and felt a frightful sense of impotence take hold of me. I 
and all my good American comrades are caught in an ugly 
intrigue and there is no way out. What could I do? 



.Finally I pulled myself together and tried to think of 
what to do next. The international Communist movement, 
I realized, was in the hands of the wrong people. My con- 
tacts and I were in a highly dangerous spot. There was only 
one thing to do: get as many people as I could out of the 
clutches of the Russians and then ease myself out. 

Coldly I planned the first step in the project — I must 
rescue Mary Price, because she was in the greatest danger. 
The best way to do that would be through Earl Browder. 
So I told him that I thought Mary should be disconnected 
from the apparatus; she was, I said, too nervous and high- 
strung. He shook his head dubiously; all right, I thought 
to myself, I’ll play rough if you want me to. 

I glared at him menacingly. “Look, Earl. Mary is Mildred 
Price’s sister and she knows all about your connections with 
the I.P.R. group and their information gathering. If she 
cracks up — and she will — you’re going to get mixed up 
in it.” 

He seemed to shrivel in his chair; then he shrugged his 
shoulders despairingly. 

“O.K.,” he said in' a tone of defeat. 

So far, so good. Who else? Bill Remington, fortunately, 
had gone into the Navy in the spring and he was safely out 


of it. Two others I had dropped on orders from the Rus- 
sians: Harold Sloan, because he was about to see a psychia- 
trist, and Louis Budenz, because they thought he was too 
close to the American Communist Party for safety. Who 
was left? 

Well, there was the Perlo group, which under my direc- 
tives was flourishing and producing more and more ma- 
terial. Although some of them were scared and refused to 
cooperate much, others were really going to town. Vic, 
himself, was bringing us complete and up-to-date informa- 
tion on aircraft — production, distribution by countries and 
theaters of action. 

Then there was Duncan Lee, my prime headache for 
the last several months, who was exceedingly nervous and 
jumpy. Indeed, by that time his hush-hush work at the 
O.S.S. had made him so hypercautious that he had taken to 
crawling around the floor of his apartment on hands and 
knees examining the telephone wires to see if they had been 
tampered with. I remember one evening he had begged me 
to see him, and when I met him he was white and trembling 
and the sweat stood out on his forehead. 

“What’s the matter, Duncan?” I said. 

He peered around him nervously, as if he thought some- 
one was listening; then he told me the situation. It seemed 
he had found out that his boss, General Donovan, had con- 
ceived the idea of exchanging intelligence missions with the 
Russians; the N.K.V.D. was to send about ten or twelve 
men to this country and the O.S.S. would ship an equal 
number over there. The matter had been threshed out in 
a top-policy meeting of the United States government; most 
of the people present had not opposed the suggestion, with 
the exception of Admiral Leahy of the Navy, who had 


said flatly “no.” A representative of President Roosevelt had 
suggested tentatively that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea 
during an election year; however, if the N.K.V.D. came in 
plain clothes and without any fanfare, the idea might work 
out. J. Edgar Hoover, alone, sat back and looked amused, 
and his words, as Duncan reported them, have stuck in my 

“I don’t see what difference it makes,” Hoover said. 
“Ever since the Amtorg Trading Corporation moved into 
this country, the N.K.V.D. have been wandering around 
the United States. It probably would make it a lot simpler 
for us if they came already labeled.” 

Duncan wasn’t sure whether the exchange would go 
through, but the mere idea of it upset him. He had turned 
to me desperately. 

“I’m finished,” he said. “They’ll come to call on me, and 
when I let them in, they’ll shake my hand and say, ‘Well 
done, comrade.’ ” 

The situation was so ludicrous that I almost laughed; then 
I realized he was serious about it. What will I do with him, 
I wondered; he’s too panicky to tell the truth to, and surely 
the Russians will fight to the death to keep such a valuable 

Helen Tenney, too, presented a problem; she was doing 
excellent work in the O.S.S., bringing us stacks of ditto- 
machined confidential O.S.S. reports from their undercover 
operatives in places as far away as Persia and Kurdistan. 

Yet, even if Helen lost her job, she would still be very 
useful. Like Mary Price, she was young, attractive, and not 
married; perhaps they would want her, also, to lure men. 
Nausea swept over me; how could I prevent them from 
taking her? 


That left only three more important ones in Washing- 
ton: Maurice Halperin, Robert Miller, and Joseph Gregg. 
No, I was wrong; there was also J. Julius Joseph. All of 
these, with the exception of Bob Miller — who was still ter- 
rified and not producing much — were valuable contacts; 
undoubtedly the Russians would want them. 

For the next month I continued to go down to Washing- 
ton and collect material from my agents, meanwhile trying 
desperately to think of some plan. Each time I looked at 
them it was a fresh reminder that I was responsible for keep- 
ing them in this ugly affair. Nights I couldn’t sleep; I would 
pace the floor or go out and walk around the Village until 
three o’clock in the morning trying to figure a way out of 
the situation. I began to look thin and pale and tired; it was 
an effort to walk even two blocks. 

After putting out tentative feelers, I was convinced that 
all my Communist contacts — however loath they might be 
to do undercover work — were so completely saturated by 
Communist ideology that it would be useless to take the 
chance of telling them the truth. They would only go up to 
Communist headquarters and denounce me as a traitor. I de- 
cided on strategy: I would slant the information I had on 
them to such a degree that they would look like poor risks 
to the Russian Secret Police, who perhaps would drop them. 
This path I followed. 

Where they were nervous and high-strung, as in the case 
of Duncan Lee, I reported them on the verge of cracking 
up; where they had had too much open Party work in 
the past, as in the case of Joseph Gregg — who had been in 
the Spanish Civil War — I overemphasized the fact; where 
they were in too close contact with dangerous elements — 
J. Julius Joseph had formed a friendship with an Army 

[ 261 ] 

counterintelligence agent — I warned that the whole or- 
ganization might be in peril if they were kept on. 

At the same time I tried to carry on a campaign of 
counterpropaganda among my Communist contacts, using 
highly indirect methods. I knew that Helen Tenney was 
tired and lonesome and beginning to feel the nervous strain; 
I subtly insinuated that this was no life for her, that it got 
worse the longer one stayed in it and it was a pity she wasn’t 
out of it and back in New York with her old friends. Per- 
haps, I thought, she’ll take the hint and give up her job in 
Washington; then she will be of no further use to the Rus- 

With people like Victor Perlo, who were Communists of 
long standing and unlikely to be scared off, I used a differ- 
ent tack. I treated him as Bill had me at our first meeting, 
using the same brutality and the same savagery; I de- 
manded, I threatened, I almost beat him into submission. 
It doesn’t matter what he thinks about me, I decided, just so 
long as I save him. Let him learn what the N.K.V.D. is 
really like, I thought; let him get a taste of their methods 
firsthand. Perhaps it will act like a dash of cold water in his 
face and wake him up; if it doesn’t, then there isn’t any hope 
for him anyway. 

By now it was getting on toward the holiday season and 
mechanically I began to buy the usual Christmas presents 
for my people. This year was more difficult, because I had 
more gifts to purchase; it seemed like an endless problem. 

I finally settled on scarves and wallets for the members of 
the Perlo group and disposed of them in one fell swoop; 
then I bought for the others. Jack, meanwhile, was demur- 
ring at caviar for Earl Browder; he didn’t see why the guy 
merited it, he said. They don’t like Earl, I thought to my- 

[ 262 ] 

self; this is only one of many indications I have had. Obvi- 
ously, the Russians don’t like the fact that he’s getting too 
independent; they have had their knife into him ever since 
he tried to hold out on them by protecting Mary and the 
Silvermasters. Moreover, they distinctly resented his build- 
ing up his own position and prestige by meeting with Sum- 
ner Welles of the State Department; Earl himself had told 
me that it was his own idea, which he had engineered 
through Lauchlin Currie. He’s getting too big for his boots, 
I thought, and pretty soon they’ll cut him down to size. 

Laden with three suitcases of presents, I went down to 
Washington the week before Christmas; I was to deliver 
them to my contacts, collect their information, then meet 
Jack for breakfast the third morning at the Hotel Statler. 
Everything went very well; all the people were pleased 
with their presents and gay with the holiday spirit. Duncan 
Lee, who with his O.S.S. training fancied himself somewhat 
of a sleuth, eyed his leather writing case and his wife’s red- 
leather compact thoughtfully; then he uttered a whoop of 

“I’ve discovered where you work,” he said happily. “Last 
year you also gave us leather goods; you must be in the 
wholesale leather business.” 

Amused, I moved on to my next contact — Maurice Hal- 
perin, who lived out in Takoma Park. As I rode out on the 
bus, I began to worry about him; of all the people I had, he 
was the one I had been unable to tell the N.K.V.D. would 
be a bad risk. He was such a well-balanced, stable person, 
with a wife, two lovely children, and a happy home life; I 
don’t believe there was a nerve in his body. Moreover, he 
had never been openly associated with the Communists, 
and although the Security Division of the O.S.S. knew he 

[ 263 ] 

was pro-Communist, they had done nothing to dislodge him 
from his job. 

It was simply amazing, I thought, how careless the O.S.S. 
was, in keeping on people who were extremely dangerous; 
Maurice, after all, was not the only one. I remembered how, 
a few months before, we had asked Duncan to find out why 
Mary Price had been turned down in the fall of 1943; he 
had promptly produced the information that the reason 
was because she had been associating with known Commu- 
nists. When we discovered he had access to the security 
files, we had asked him to bring us information that might 
be of value. Thereupon, he had given me a slip of paper on 
which he had written down the names of people that the 
O.S.S. considered dangerous risks, divided into three cate- 
gories — “known Soviet agents,” “known Communists,” 
and “Communist sympathizers.” In the first group were 
three names — none of whom I knew; in the second, was 
an active member of the Perlo group, and in the third, 
Maurice Halperin. We had quite promptly alerted Maurice 
and told him to be careful; the other, since he was more 
reckless, we had “put on ice” and told to abstain from any 
activities for a six-month period. That had been some time 
before; yet, in spite of our forebodings, both of them were 
still holding their jobs. 

Obviously Maurice was in no danger of losing his; more- 
over, he would be an extremely valuable person to the Rus- 
sians. By now, he not only had access to the O.S.S. secret 
cable room and the reports from their undercover men 
abroad, but because of an exchange agreement he was also 
able to secure confidential State Department cables and 
reports. These were of great interest to the N.K.V.D.; I re- 
member how amused they were by Harriman’s confidential 

[ 264] 

report on what he thought of the Russians and how he was 
trying to handle them. I wondered how the American Am- 
bassador to Moscow would have felt if he could have 
known that the Russians knew not only every move he 
made but even his inmost thoughts. Certainly he wouldn’t 
have wanted them to know just how much he disliked them. 

My mind drifted back over the months I had known 
Maurice. I remembered with some amusement that it had 
been Maurice who caused me one of the worst frights I had 
had. It had been arranged that I pick him up at his garage 
out on Florida Avenue. It was a bitterly cold morning; I 
arrived bundled up, with my knitting bag full of microfilms 
and documents, and waited in front of a garage on the cor- 
ner he had specified. As time went on and he did not appear, 
I grew colder and colder; finally I decided to go inside and 
see if he wasn’t waiting there. I opened the door and stepped 
in; it was filled with shelves of documents that reached to 
the ceiling, and I found myself surrounded by three men- 
acing-looking men in uniform with revolvers. Ye gods, 
I thought, in a panic; this must be a storehouse for secret 
documents for the O.S.S. or some other similar agency. 
What should I do now? If they arrested me, they would 
find material in my possession that would give the whole 
apparatus away. My knees shook but I managed to keep my 

“I’m sorry,” I said in a bewildered tone, “but I seem to 
be in the wrong place. I’m part of a car pool and I was sup- 
posed to pick up the rest of the people in a garage on this 
comer. But this can’t be the place.” 

For a moment that seemed years they stared at me; then 
they nodded comprehendingly. 

“It’s easy to make that mistake, Miss,” one of them said 

[ 265 ] 

finally, “especially if you don’t know the neighborhood 
and the queer intersection we have here. The garage you 
want is just around the corner.” 

I had quite literally tottered out of the garage, wondering 
if my face showed what a fright I had had; around the 
corner I found Maurice patiently waiting. 

I finished with all my contacts by the end of the second 
day. I spent that night with Helen Tenney and set off the 
following morning to have breakfast with Jack at the Stat- 
ler. After I had passed over the material to him, I handed 
him the Christmas present I had bought for him — a rather 
good-looking leather wallet. I was surprised at his reaction; 
probably I had expected that he would take it and say 
“thank you” quite casually. He took it in his hands and 
smoothed it lovingly; then he looked at me as if I had given 
him something really rare and precious. 

“I’ve never owned anything as expensive and beautiful 
before,” he said to me wistfully. Then, with great reluc- 
tance, he put it away. I thought of his reaction the following 
night when I gave A1 his present, an imported wool scarf 
and some leather gloves; he looked them over very critically, 
fingering the material and holding it up to the light. 

“The scarf is all right,” he said precisely, “but the gloves 
are not well made.” 

With difficulty I suppressed a hysterical laugh as I 
watched him charge into his food and rapidly dispose of it; 
even though I had had no dinner, I simply couldn’t eat with 
those tight knots of tension in my stomach. The meal ended, 
he settled back in his chair and leisurely lit a cigarette, look- 
ing at me appraisingly. Here it comes, I thought, bracing 
myself for the worst. 

“Well,” he said, dragging in a mouthful of smoke and 

[ 266 ] 

exhaling it with sensuous pleasure, “we have at last decided 
what to do about all the contacts that Golos handled. You 
cannot, obviously, continue to handle them; the set-up is 
too full of holes and therefore too dangerous. I’m afraid our 
friend Golos was not too cautious a man, and there is the 
risk that you, because of your connection with him, may 
endanger the apparatus. You will therefore turn them over 
to us; we will look into their backgrounds thoroughly and 
decide which ones we will keep.” He paused for a moment, 
while I stared at him with the fascinated gaze that a bird 
gives a snake about to devour it; then he continued: “This 
shift-over must be made immediately, so you will stay on 
as long as necessary to make the arrangements.” 

My brain seemed paralyzed; I didn’t seem able to think 
clearly. Frantically I stalled for time. 

“But I can’t, Al,” I protested. “It will be impossible for 
me to get hold of all my contacts at such short notice, and 
besides, I can’t be away from the office that long.” 

After some argument, he agreed to my proposal; I was 
to return to New York the next morning, settle any urgent 
business, return to Washington, and prepare my contacts 
for the transfer. This, however, was not all he had to say 
to me; he had also made plans for my future. I was, he said, 
an excellent agent; he would like me to continue with the 
N.K.V.D. In this case, I was to sever all connections with 
the U.S. Service and be put “on ice” for a period of six 
months until they had determined the F.B.I. had lost interest 
in me, and then I would be set up in a new “cover” business 
in Washington, Baltimore, or Philadelphia. “We only op- 
erate out of large cities,” he explained. At that time I would 
be given a new group of government contacts to take care 
of, probably more important ones than I had already had. In 

[ 267 ] 

the event that I insisted on remaining with U.S. Service — an 
eventuality which he hoped would not happen — I would 
be permitted to drop out of active undercover work, al- 
though I must be ready to help them at any time. 

“I hope you will choose to remain with us,” he said 
suavely. “You have an excellent record in the Service and 
you can be of inestimable value to us in the future. You are 
one of those rare people — an American with brains.” This 
last was said with a note of profound contempt; then, look- 
ing me up and down appraisingly, like a trader about to de- 
cide whether to buy a horse, he added: “Besides, I like you 
personally; I think we could work very well together.” 
Fear, nausea, and rage churned inside of me; I couldn’t de- 
cide whether I wanted most to spit in his face or take to my 
heels and run as far away as possible. But I wanted to know 
one more thing before I left; I kept my voice steady. 

“And if I leave U.S. Service,” I asked, “what happens to 
John H. Reynolds? Will he be left there as before?” 

A1 assured me that they didn’t want Reynolds, that he 
would be too difficult a person to handle; they would re- 
place him with someone else, buying out his interest and 
retiring him from the firm. I nodded thoughtfully and left 

On the train back to New York I tried hopelessly to think 
of some way out, but the more I pondered the matter the 
more I realized I had now reached the dead end. I couldn’t 
hope to save the Washington contacts; if the organizations 
couldn’t get them through me, they could go around me 
and force Earl Browder to turn them over. The contacts 
were doomed now, and there was nothing I could do to 
change the situation. I could only hope that either the Rus- 


sians would take some of my recommendations seriously 
and drop a few of them or that the contacts themselves, un- 
der the influence of my propaganda, would fight their own 
way out. But there was one person I could save, if I made 
the right decision — John H. Reynolds. He and his wife had 
by now become good friends of mine; I didn’t want to see 
them any further involved in all this mess. If I remained with 
U.S. Service he would only be dragged deeper into the 
racket. Obviously, A1 intended to use the business for some 
purpose, in spite of his protestations. If, on the contrary, I 
left the U.S. Service, the Russians would buy out Reynolds 
and he would be safely out of their clutches. 

Moreover, that would mean that I had been able to burn 
one more bridge behind me. 

I made a sudden decision: I would leave the corporation, 
thus rescuing the Reynolds family; then I would go “on ice” 
as A1 had suggested. Little by little I would impress on the 
Russians that I was worn out from too much undercover 
work — if necessary, I would put on an act and pretend that 
I, too, was cracking up. They wouldn’t want to take any 
chances that I might fall apart and talk too much; they 
would probably drop me in a hurry. 

By the early part of January all of my contacts had been 
turned over and I found myself completely tired, mentally 
and physically, from the strain of leaving them. It hadn’t 
been easy; even though there had been no choice, I was still 
haunted by the thought that I might somehow have been 
able to save them. In spite of the fact that they were part 
of a job I had had to do, I had regarded them as my friends 
— an attitude that the Communist Party frowned upon. I 
hated to feel that I had let them down. Yet, in the long run, 

1 269] 

I thought, probably the shock treatment is the best; they 
would never have believed anything I told them. Their only 
chance was to learn at first hand, as I had done. 

Not long afterward the Russians decided it was danger- 
ous for me to remain in the apartment where Yasha had 
died; they felt sure it must be under F.B.I. surveillance. I 
was told to find another place at once and move as quickly 
as possible. I was too weary to argue the matter, even 
though I knew that with the housing shortage it would be 
well-nigh impossible. Finally, after searching days on end, 
I decided to take a room in the Hotel St. George in Brook- 
lyn Heights; it would be more expensive but there was no 
other way to solve the problem. In the early part of Febru- 
ary I put what few pieces of furniture I owned into stor- 
age; then I gathered together my personal belongings and 
prepared to move out. 

As I packed, it seemed to me that I was cutting my last 
link with Yasha and setting out all alone into a strange new 
existence. Despite the growing ugliness of the outside 
world, I had always felt at peace when I entered my front 
door; the apartment was full of memories of happy times 
we had spent together. Somehow, here I had always felt 
very near to him; I could close my eyes and imagine him 
sitting in his favorite armchair and smiling encouragement 
to me. Especially in the last few months, in the midst of my 
increasing disillusionment, I had thought about him con- 
stantly; he, too, had gone through that same terrible awak- 
ening, only in his case it had killed him. If he had lived, 
would he have found the strength to break away, I won- 
dered; I thought he would have, and that feeling was giving 
me the courage to go on myself. As I packed up the last of 
his clothes to be given to the Russian War Relief, as he had 


wished, I thought to myself: if he was able to face death un- 
afraid, then I shall find the courage to go out and walk into 
the unknown alone. 

The N.K.V.D. had evidently been right about the F.B.I.’s 
interest in my apartment; a few days before I left, the land- 
lady told me that a strange man had been to see her, asking 
for someone with a name like mine. I recognized the tactics; 
it must be a man from the Bureau. On the heels of this oc- 
currence, my front-door bell rang one evening, and when 
I answered it, I found a tall, dark, athletic-looking young 
man standing in the entrance. Oh, oh, I said to myself, here 
we go again! He was, he explained, looking for someone 
who was supposed to live where I did; he spent five minutes 
carefully telling me about his nonexistent friend, while he 
stared at me intently and seemed to be memorizing every 
detail of my appearance. 

When he reluctantly departed, I closed the door and sat 
down thoughtfully on the couch. What an odd predicament 
to be in, I thought to myself, suppressing a hysterical desire 
to laugh; here I am running away from the Russians and 
now I’m being pursued by the F.B.I., too. On one side of 
me stands the merciless Russian machine and on the other 
the equally tyrannical American government; I am caught 
in the midst of this fray in a strange little no-man’s land all 
my own. I found myself thinking about the F.B.I. agent 
that had just called; he was the first one I had gotten a good 
look at. He looked very nice — just like any other clean-cut 
young American; his eyes, too, interested me — they held 
none of the ugly hate and fear that so characterized the 
N.K.V.D. agents. What a pity that such a seemingly decent 
person was mixed up in such a sordid business! 

It was during this period that, returning from seeing Earl 

[ 271 ] 

Browder, I ran into Berny Shuster, then organizational sec- 
retary of the New York District of the Communist Party. 
He was an old friend of Yasha’s, had constantly visited him 
at World Tourists, and I knew he had turned contacts for 
espionage over to us. I tried to avoid him, but he rushed up 
to me; he looked tired and not too well. 

“Wait a minute,” he said urgently. “I want to talk to 

As we stood in the middle of East 13 th Street, he told me 
what was on his mind; he was worried about the people 
he had turned over to Yasha and myself. In his excitement, 
he forgot all caution; he gripped my arm nervously and be- 
gan to tell me that we were ruining the American Commu- 
nists he had given us. 

“I won’t give you any more,” he kept crying out. “They 
come back to us smashed up and we have to send them to 
our psychiatrists. They’re no good to us any more; they’re 
nervous wrecks! ” 

I looked at him thoughtfully; what was there that I could 
say? He couldn’t feel any worse about the situation than 
I did, but what could I do? I didn’t even dare to confide in 
him. Listlessly, I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. Yet 
all the way home his words haunted me; when I arrived at 
my apartment, I moved over to the mirror, and what I saw 
frightened me. My face was thin, tense, haunted looking — 
the eyes were wary and filled with mistrust. I turned away 
in sudden disgust; this, then, I said wearily, is what has hap- 
pened to me. I once started out with high, idealistic hopes 
and now I look like someone who is not even human. 
What has happened to us all, I cried out passionately; what 
has happened to all of us who started out so gallantly to 
build a new world, where men would live like human be- 

[ 272 ] 

ings and not like animals? We had been corrupted and 
smashed by a machine more merciless than anything the 
world had ever seen, and there was no hope left for any of 
us. This was the end to all our dreams, all our futile strag- 
glings to build a world where there would be justice and 
mercy. The only way out of this blind, senseless world was 
a merciful death. “Not that they die, but that they die like 
sheep,” I quoted to myself, and I knew that now I under- 
stood what Louis Untermeyer had meant. We were the 
sheep and we had, with the best of intentions, been led 
astray; now we had gone too far ever to turn back. And 
what could we go back to? A world that had no meaning 
and no sense, where people lived and died like animals and 
had nothing to look forward to? No, it was better to keep 
on fighting, fighting for one’s own personal integrity, even 
though it was a losing battle. I would keep going, as Yasha 
had, and perhaps one day I would find release in eternal 
nothingness; perhaps one day I, too, would lie quietly un- 
der a tree and go back to the earth whence I had come. 

At my next meeting with Jack, he told me that he would 
have to leave me. From then on I would be in contact only 
with Al. I was sorry to see him go, for of all the agents I had 
met since Yasha’s death, he was the most decent. He even 
dresses as a revolutionary should, I thought, noting that he 
had on the usual worn gray suit, the thin, inadequate trench 
coat, and scuffed shoes with one sole coming off. Moreover, 
under all the merciless N.K.V.D. discipline he seemed to be 
a very human person; although, unlike Al, he didn’t help 
me off with my coat or light my cigarette, he was kind in 
small ways. 

Jack looked at me wistfully. 

“I’m sorry to have to say goodbye,” he said. “You’ve al- 

f *73 ] 

ways brought me good luck. Twice since I’ve known you 
I’ve had promotions in the Service, and once a medal.” He 
stopped for a moment and then added: “But that’s as far as 
I’ll go; they say that sooner or later water reaches its own 
level and I’ve reached mine. There isn’t any further to go.” 
I looked puzzled. “I don’t understand what you mean.” 
He laughed bitterly. “I know our work in the United 
States better than anyone else, including all the big shots 
like A1 that they send over from Moscow. I guess I’m too 
good; they’ll probably send me down to Latin America 

So that was it! The Organization didn’t like people like 
Jack getting to be too powerful; when they became too ef- 
ficient, they were shifted somewhere else. For all his years 
of service and his good work, he was in a more precarious 
position than I was. 

“Look here, Mary,” he said abruptly, calling me by the 
code name he used for me, “if they want to send you to 
Moscow, don’t go there. You wouldn’t like it, not after 
you’ve lived in the United States.” 

He paused, and his mind seemed to be miles and years 
away. “You know, Mary, I sometimes wonder how I came 
to be mixed up in this. It all started when I was a kid in my 
teens in Lithuania during the Civil War; I started out doing 
odd jobs for the Bolsheviks, because I thought their new 
regime would be better for my country than that of the 
Czar, and then somehow I just kept on going.” He paused 
for a moment and went on: “It’s funny, even now I remem- 
ber the day my brother discovered what they were really 
like. We were literally starving to death; we used to sleep 
all we could to conserve our strength. Then somehow he 
got hold of a small cheese and proudly set out on the road 

[ 2 74 1 

to bring it home to the family. Halfway there, he was 
stopped by two ragged and hungry Red Army men; they 
demanded the cheese, and even though they threatened him, 
he refused to give it up. Finally, rather than hand it over, he 
ground it into the dusty road with his bare heel; he wasn’t 
going to let them have it.” 

Startled, I stared at him; he smiled grimly, his mind still 
in the past. 

“You know, Mary,” he said sadly. “We had had so much 
of the Czarist men that we thought these people would be 
different. But they weren’t! They kicked us around just 
like the others.” 

I could think of nothing to say; I wanted to ask him why 
he was still working for them, but I didn’t dare. Then he 
pulled himself together. 

“Forget what I told you,” he said roughly. “Just take my 

I had thought myself incapable of any more feeling, but 
Jack’s words hurt with a pain that cut through all my 
numbness. Must I stand helplessly by and see decent human 
beings mangled by the Soviet machine? Could I slide out of 
this ugly mess and watch in silence while other young ideal- 
ists, with high hopes of building a new and better world, 
were sucked into this intrigue and systematically corrupted 
and smashed? I found quite suddenly I didn’t want to run 
away any more — I wanted to dig my heels in and fight back. 
But how? I couldn’t do it alone; I had tried that and failed. 
If only there were some group of decent people — no matter 
how few — who would band together and do something 
about the situation, I would take my chances and join 
them. But where would I find such an organization? 

What was it Jack had said? Yes — I wouldn’t like Moscow 


— not after the United States. But that meant that he, who 
had lived in both places, thought that my country was by 
far the better. Could it be that I had been wrong about the 
United States? I suddenly remembered a conversation I 
had had not long before with Mr. Rosowsky, head of the 
American Federation for Lithuanian Jews, when he had 
come into World Tourists to ship some parcels to the Soviet 
Union. He had been unusually quiet that day, and when I 
asked him what was the trouble, he looked over at me with 
eyes full of pain. 

“I am an old man,” he said sadly, “and I have nothing fur- 
ther to live for. When the Nazis invaded Lithuania, they 
decimated the Jewish population; most of my relatives were 
killed off. When that happened, I lived only to see the Red 
Army come in and liberate my country; they, I was sure, 
spelled hope for the future. But I was very wrong; bad as 
the Nazis were, the Soviet Army was far worse — I cannot 
tell you what atrocities they committed on my people.” He 
sighed and went on. “Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this; prob- 
ably you, too, are impressed by their clever propaganda, as 
are so many Americans. It is easy to believe these glowing 
reports of a new world, for each of us in his heart wants to 
think there is some place on this earth where there is no op- 
pression and injustice.” 

I had sat quite still in my chair, finding nothing to say. He 
shifted his position slightly in his seat and smiled. 

“Forgive an old man for taking up your time,” he said, 
“but I have no one to talk to. I wish now that I had been 
able to bring my relatives over to this fine, beautiful coun- 
try of yours where they could have built a happy life for 
themselves. You look surprised? Ah, you are like so many 
Americans who see only the ugliness of your own country 

[ 276 ] 

and not its good points; you do not realize that compared 
to anything that my country has known — or is knowing 
now — it is a paradise. You Americans at least have the right 
to earn your own living as you choose, you have adequate 
food and shelter, you can even say what you want — even to 
criticizing your President — and no one can stop you from 
that. Yes, I know there is misery and suffering and injustice; 
I see a lot of that in my business. But it is nothing, I tell you 
— nothing compared to what I have seen over there.” 

I forgot my caution and asked him a question. “But how 
can this be such a good country if it is controlled by greedy 
interests and crooked politicians?” 

He smiled very gently. “Those you have everywhere; it 
is, perhaps, a part of human nature and we must accept it. 
But here, at least, such people are not in complete control, 
as over there. There is a chance for you Americans to 
change things that you do not like; it may take a long time, 
but it will come. I am more and more learning that we can- 
not build our Utopias overnight by wildly throwing over 
an oppressive regime and starting a new one. We have all 
been, perhaps, too impatient; we have not realized that it 
may take centuries to achieve our goal.” 

At the time, his words had impressed me profoundly but 
I had resolutely put them out of my mind. Now they re- 
turned to haunt me with renewed intensity. Perhaps he 
and Jack were right; certainly they of all people should 
know. Perhaps in comparison with the other countries of 
the world, the United States did offer a maximum of free- 
dom and justice; perhaps here, more than anywhere, the 
individual was treated like a human being. It was true that 
the Fascist elements in the government were strong and 
well organized; yet in spite of that they had made no seri- 

1*77 1 

ous inroads into the basic freedoms of the country. Could 
the United States maintain this state of affairs and even 
improve it? I didn’t know. There were seemingly grave 
weaknesses in the American system; it depended entirely on 
the voters of the country to keep it going. A good many 
people, I had found, were unwilling to take the time or the 
trouble to carry out their duties as citizens; they sat back 
and let others take the initiative. That meant that possibly a 
small, well-organized clique could take over power, pro- 
vided they moved slowly and with sufficient cleverness. 

Yet, frail though this system was, it was at the present 
time the one bulwark against the growing power of Com- 
munism. Undoubtedly it was not perfect and certainly it 
was ineffectual but it was all there was. I brought myself up 
short; if I had found something decent that was worth fight- 
ing for — and it seemed that I had — then, regardless of the 
odds against its ultimate victory, I belonged in there fight- 
ing. I could no longer slide out of the mess I was in and stand 
by watching; I must pitch in and help. I had seen at first hand 
how efficiently organized the Soviet machine was, how 
successfully it had been able to penetrate into even the 
highest places in the United States government. Somehow 
it must be stopped, and I was in a position to contribute my 
little bit. 

The conclusion was inescapable: I must go to the F.B.I. 
and tell them what I knew about Soviet undercover work 
in the United States so that they could break it up. Horror 
stricken, I shrank back from the idea; no, I couldn’t do that. 
They were my enemies; they would beat me up, they would 
put me in jail, they might even kill me. And the Russian Se- 
cret Police! If I just slid out quietly and did nothing, they 
would leave me alone; but if I talked to the American au- 


thorities, they would certainly take drastic action — action 
that wouldn’t be pleasant. They would start a smear cam- 
paign against me, as they had with all previous Communists 
who had broken and talked; they might even resort to phys- 
ical reprisals and put me, too, six feet under. I shivered with 
a sudden uncontrollable fear; I didn’t have the courage to 
undergo all that. Then I thought of Yasha and pulled my- 
self together; if he had felt the way I did, he would have the 
stamina to do what was right. It doesn’t matter what hap- 
pens to me, I said to myself firmly; perhaps, after all, I’m 
only living on borrowed time. What is important is that 
the F.B.I. gets the necessary information. 

Then the weight of the past crowded in on me; though I 
was gradually emerging from the grip of the Communist 
ideology, I found myself being pulled almost inexorably 
toward my past associations. Ten years before, I had burned 
all my bridges behind me and in the interval had built up a 
new and happy life for myself, all centered on the Com- 
munist Party. As I sat there thinking, I realized that those 
had been the best years of my life; there I had found peace, 
security, and a sense of doing something constructive. My 
mind wandered back again into the past; I felt once more 
the warmth of comradeship, the close bond of experiences 
shared, the sense of satisfaction that comes from an ideal 
believed in and fought for. Could I leave all that behind me 
and go out into a strange, cold world all alone? Did I have 
the strength to pull myself up by the roots and transplant 
myself to some new soil? 

And what would I face if I did? There would be no wel- 
coming arms to receive me; my fellow Americans would 
regard me with suspicion and distaste. They would be un- 
able to understand just why I had ever gotten into such 


an ugly business; they would turn away from me in disgust 
and shun me as a leper. I would have no friends. But that 
would not be all. It would be difficult to find a job to sup- 
port myself; the Communists would put every barrier in 
my way and I would have no help from anyone else. How 
would I eat? 

And even if I could do all this, what about my comrades, 
with whom I had worked in Washington? I would, of 
course, have to turn them in; there was no other way to 
smash the Soviet machine. But I couldn’t do that; they were 
my friends, my comrades — together, through bad times 
and good, we had fought to build a better world. I tried to 
put aside my emotions and think logically. They’re not my 
friends any more, I said to myself firmly; if they knew that 
I no longer believed in the Communist ideology, they 
would denounce me as a “traitor.” We’re in opposite camps, 
now, I thought sadly; when the Revolution comes, we shall 
have to shoot each other down. I shut my eyes against this 
prospect; even if I hadn’t recruited them into the Party, I 
had helped to keep them good Communists. It was I who 
was responsible for the plight they were now in; they had 
sensed that I honestly believed in the revolutionary move- 
ment, and that reliance on my sincerity had kept them 
believing in the Communist doctrine, even when they, 
themselves, had been assailed by doubts. I had let them down 
badly once, when — knowing what the Russian Secret Po- 
lice were like — I had permitted them to be turned over; 
now I was thinking of betraying them in an even worse 
fashion. I can’t sell my past friends down the river, I cried 
out desperately; it doesn’t matter what happens to me — I, 
at least, am expendable. Expendable . . . Perhaps, in the 
long run, all of us were expendable; somewhere along the 

[ 280 ] 

line, with the best of motives, we had taken a wrong turn- 
ing and we had to answer for it. Now it was a question of 
our small lives or the lives of the vast majority of decent 
people in the world; perhaps all of us would have to be 
sacrificed to save the values that humanity held dear. What 
did the fate of a few individuals matter, stacked up against 
the fate of the world? 

Now you’re thinking like the Russian Secret Police, I 
thought bitterly; you’re treating human beings as if they 
were little more than pawns on a chessboard. These are 
people, not automatons; if life has any meaning, each one 
of them has a worth as an individual. Yet all these old 
friends of mine had become, in the hands of the Communist 
movement, no longer individuals but robots; they were 
chained in an intellectual and moral slavery that was far 
worse than any prison. 

With a swift flash of clarity, I saw that what happened to 
a man himself — his honesty, his integrity — was far more 
important than what happened to him physically. We who 
had become Communists had done so honestly, but over 
the long years of indoctrination we had become so warped 
that we were no longer true even to ourselves. I, somehow, 
had found my way out of this perverted thinking, but the 
others were gradually being dragged deeper and deeper 
into a hell from which there was no possibility of escape. If 
I turned them over to the authorities, they would no longer 
be useful to the Soviet machine and would therefore be free 
of any further entanglements. Back in a normal life again, 
perhaps they, too, could find their way back to that integ- 
rity which they had lost, while believing that they still had 
it. But could I do it? I didn’t know. 

Somehow I seemed unable to find the strength to take any 


action. As the weeks rolled by and I wrestled with my con- 
science, I vacillated back and forth; one day I would deter- 
mine that I would go to the F.B.I., the next I would decide 
that under no circumstances could I do it. Night after night 
I would walk the streets, unable to sleep; when I would 
finally doze off in the early hours of the morning, I would 
awake an hour or two later, dripping with sweat and in the 
grip of a dreadful nightmare. Always it was the same one 
and always, no matter how thoroughly I waked myself out 
of it, I went back to it again. I was watching an execution: 
the firing squad, with their rifles leveled, were facing the 
prisoner who, with his eyes blindfolded, stood against a 
brick wall. The victim was always different — sometimes it 
was Mary Price, sometimes it was Greg Silvermaster — yet, 
every time, I had the strange sensation that it was I, myself, 
who was about to die. As I stood there, rooted to the spot 
with horror, the victim would suddenly wheel around and 
point his finger at me. “Traitor,” he would cry out. “It is 
you who have killed me! ” A volley of shots would ring out 
and it would seem as if all of them had entered my own 

I became thinner and paler and more tired; yet I could 
come to no decision. Sometimes I wished desperately that 
someone would force me to take drastic action; although 
I was tearing myself apart, I could not make up my mind. 
If only the F.B.I. would arrest me, I thought; perhaps then 
I would be forced to do something. At last one day I pulled 
myself together. There’s only one thing for me to do, I said 
to myself; I must go out to the country — away from this 
problem — and get enough rest so that I can think clearly. I 
packed my bags and set out for Old Lyme, a small Connect- 
icut town on Long Island Sound. 



When I reached my destination, I felt that at last I had 
found a refuge — a place where, far from my old Com- 
munist associations, I could rest and think things out. Quite 
suddenly the full weight of the past years’ fatigue seemed to 
pile up on me; I wanted only to vegetate and not try to grap- 
ple with any problems. At first I did little but eat and sleep 
and lie on the beach in the sun; even swimming a few 
strokes seemed to exhaust me. I avoided as much as possible 
talking to people; I didn’t feel up to the effort of making 

Then, bit by bit, my strength came back; I started to 
take walks and explore the town. It was, I discovered, very 
much like my home town New Milford; there were the 
same old houses with their well-kept lawns and fine old 
trees, the same white Congregational church with its tall 
spire, the same small stores. Even the people seemed the 
same — they are sturdy and independent and solid, I thought. 
They have an innate sense of the worth of an individual. To 
them, it would be important what happened to their neigh- 
bor; they would feel a loss of self-respect if they let him 
down in his need. If only the whole country were based on 
values like these, there would be no fear for the future. In 
this changing situation, could the old values continue to 
hold? I didn’t know. Once before, as I was growing up, I had 
faced this same problem; reluctantly I had come to the con- 
clusion that the world I had been born into was crumbling 
under the impact of a new mechanistic civilization. We had 
needed a new faith that reaffirmed the brotherhood of man 
and the worth of the individual, I had thought, and in my 
groping, I found a seeming answer in Communism. Yet that, 
too, had failed me; far from answering the problem of suf- 
fering and injustice, it had only intensified it. 


Sometimes in the evening I would start out by myself 
and, passing the creek with its nostalgic smell of the sea, I 
would take the winding road to the top of the hill, where 
I could look out over the town. Here I would stand and, as 
I watched the last rays of the sun gleam on the white spire 
of the church, a strange sense of contentment would seep 
into me. Somehow, alone up there, I would feel that the past 
ten years had only been a bad dream; I was a new person in 
an old-new world. 

As I descended the hill again, my problem would come 
back to haunt me in full force. My faith in my old Commu- 
nist ideals was gone now; even the embers were growing 
cold. And yet, I thought wistfully, I shall never feel like that 
again — never again will I be able to think and feel and live 
with such intensity and passion. Part of me has been left 
behind in those ten years; I shall never again be a whole per- 

But I can’t believe that the world is empty and meaning- 
less; as long as there are decent, solid people like these, 
there must be values that transcend mere expediency. And 
since there are, I belong in there fighting for them. I must 
go to the F.B.I., I thought; but how could I find the cour- 
age to do it? I’m only one person — just another insig- 
nificant individual — and I’m frightened. If only there was 
someone bigger than I am, someone to give me the strength 
to do what I have to do! 

I was passing the Congregational church; almost without 
knowing what I was doing, I opened the door and walked 
in. It was quiet and peaceful inside; I sat down in a back pew, 
wondering just why I had come in. Then, suddenly, with- 
out any volition on my part, I found myself trying to 
pray — calling out for help to Someone whom all these years 

t 284] 

I had denied. Oh, God, I cried out desperately; help me to 
find the strength! 

As if in answer, the old familiar words of the Twenty- 
third Psalm came throbbing into my mind: “Yea, though 
thou walk in the valley of the shadow of death, thou shalt 
fear no evil; for I am with thee.” I caught my breath and 
held onto the back of the pew ahead of me; somehow a 
strange sense of peace came over me. And then, in the 
empty church, the voice of my conscience seemed to ring 
out loudly: You have no right here — yet. You know now 
that the way of life you have followed these last ten years 
was wrong; you have come back to where you belong. 
But first you must make amends! 

Slowly I got to my feet and walked out into the bright 
sunshine; dazedly I sat down on the steps and tried to think. 

I must go to the F.B.I., but how? There was still the prac- 
tical problem of contacting them without the knowledge 
of the N.K.V.D. who, for all I knew, might be close on 
my heels. None of their agents were completely trusted— 
especially when they were Americans — and often there 
were counteragents keeping tabs on their own workers. 
Quite probably they were inconspicuously watching me; 
how could I throw them off the trail? And even if I got to 
the F.B.I., how did I know that I would reach the right 
person? How did I know that my old friends hadn t infil- 
trated there— as they had in every other government agency 
— and that it wouldn’t be my luck to run into a member of 
the Russian Secret Police? 

I was suddenly cold with terror; even on this warm sum- 
mer day I found myself shivering. Then I pulled myself to- 
gether; I would have to take a chance on running into a 
Communist in the F.B.I.; the main problem was to get to 


the Bureau. But that, I thought, presented grave difficulties. 
I couldn’t, obviously, telephone them; that would be very 
unwise. And the Washington office, I remembered, was 
located in a very conspicuous place; no one could sneak in 
there. What about the New York office? I didn’t know, but 
I decided that when I kept an appointment with A1 a few 
days hence, I would look over the situation on my way 
through New York. 

Although I waited almost two hours, A1 did not show up; 
unaware that with his usual absent-mindedness he had been 
in the wrong place, I found myself in the grip of terror. I 
haven’t been too clever in concealing my feelings, I thought 
in a panic; he knows what is going on in my mind. My time 
is running out, I said to myself desperately; the N.K.V.D. 
suspects me and it won’t be long before I, too, am six feet 
under. There is no human agency that can save me; they 
always get their man. Then I realized that I had a job to do 
before I died; I must get this information to the F.B.I. 

In New York I looked up the F.B.I. office in the tele- 
phone book; it was located in the United States Courthouse 
building. That didn’t look too good; I could never get in 
there unobserved. Then I remembered hearing the Bureau 
had a field office in New Haven, Connecticut. I will go 
there and see where it is located, I thought. 

To my joy, it turned out to be located in an ordinary 
business building where the danger of detection was at a 
minimum; here is where I will go, I decided. 

On a hot August afternoon I stood in the hallway, just 
outside the office of the F.B.I.; one step more and I would 
be inside. I wondered nervously if I were being followed; 
I had taken the elevator three floors above and sneaked 


down the fire stairs, but still I was worried. If the Russian 
Secret Police knew what I was about to do ... I steadied 
myself and glanced up and down the corridor; there was 
no one in sight. Taking a deep breath, I opened the door 
and went in. 

The small office was clean and bare; there were only a 
few chairs and a long wooden bench. Halfway down, a 
receptionist sat behind a waist-high wooden partition, en- 
grossed in some papers; beyond her stretched what seemed 
to be private offices, although the glassed-in part was so high 
that I couldn’t see in. At the click of the closing door, she 
looked up inquiringly; this is it, I said grimly, and with 
shaking knees I walked over to her. 

“I’d like to see the agent in charge,” I said in a voice that 
I hoped was steady. 

“Just a moment.” She smiled at me. “I’ll see if he’s in. 
Won’t you have a seat?” 

Slowly I walked over to the bench that faced the door- 
way, and sat down; I braced my feet against the floor so 
that my legs wouldn’t tremble. What would I say to him, 
now that I was here, I wondered. Just how did one start 
out with a story like this? I began to feel panicky; I sup- 
pressed a wild desire to bolt out the door and never come 
back. No, I said to myself firmly, you’ve got to stick this 
out; if you go away now, you’ll never come back. Desper- 
ately, I fought for self-control; then into my mind flashed 
an old maxim of my revolutionary days: when you’re in a 
tight spot and want to keep calm, think of a group of words 
— it doesn’t matter whether they make sense or not — and 
repeat them over and over to yourself until you have 
drowned out everything else. My glance fell on the inscrip- 


tion over the doorway — Federal Bureau of Investigation; 
doggedly I concentrated on that group of words, repeating 
them over and over to myself like a litany. 

The sounds of traffic outside seemed to die down, and 
the office was very still. Gradually, under the rhythm of the 
repeated words, I felt the tension ebbing out of me. The 
gate clicked open. “Won’t you come in?” the secretary said. 



The small, dark F.B.I. man sat across the desk from 
me, his face neither hostile, I decided, nor friendly. He 
picked up a pack of cigarettes, offered me one, lit it, and 
settled back in his chair. I was somewhat disconcerted. In- 
stinctively I had expected that he, like the Russian Secret 
Police, would immediately pounce on me, asking questions, 
demanding answers. Certainly the F.B.I., having taken the 
trouble to follow me around, must know who I was. There 
must be something very wrong. But what? 

Desperately I gathered up courage and told him the high- 
lights of my story. He sat smoking quietly, his eyes nar- 
rowed, and when I had finished he snubbed out his cigarette 
in the ashtray. 

“Thank you for coming in,” he said. “We’ll get in touch 
with you.” 

As I walked out into the bright sunshine, I felt a great 
tide of relief. Now, at last, I had done what had to be done. 
Then, as I began to analyze the interview, I found myself 
shivering with an odd fear. Why hadn’t the agent asked me 
any questions? Why had he been so noncommittal? Could 
it be that the United States government wasn’t interested 
in Soviet undercover work? Or, and my heart jumped into 
my throat at the idea, could it be that the Communists had 
infiltrated into even the F.B.I.? 

[ 289] 

Steady, I said to myself; there’s no reason to get into a 
panic. Perhaps this particular agent doesn’t know anything 
about the situation, and that’s why he’s being so cagey. Un- 
doubtedly, he would get in touch with headquarters and 
someone who was an expert on the subject would contact 
me. Yes, that must be it, and, reassured, I took the train 
back to Old Lyme. 

I had had no way of knowing, of course, that the F.B.I. 
was also in a predicament — one that rivaled mine. Far from 
being unconcerned, they had been somewhat startled by my 
sudden appearance in their offices. They knew, naturally, 
who I was, but, because of this knowledge, they suspected 
it might be a trap that was set by the Russian Secret Police. 
Hence they decided to move cautiously. 

Back in New York three weeks later, I learned to my hor- 
ror that A1 had double-crossed me. Instead of buying John 
H. Reynolds out of the U.S. Service & Shipping Corpora- 
tion and putting someone else in his place, he had persuaded 
Reynolds to stay on in the business. This, I knew, could 
only mean one thing: the corporation was to be used as a 
“cover” for the Soviet Secret Police. And Reynolds, of 
course, was being kept because he would be a perfect 
“front” man. 

What am I going to do, I wondered hopelessly. Far from 
bailing Reynolds out of the conspiracy, I had on the con- 
trary only dragged him in deeper. I buried my head in my 
hands. Somehow this matter had to be straightened out. But 
how? The F.B.I. evidently wasn’t interested, for they hadn’t 
as yet gotten in touch with me. That left it squarely up 
to me. 

Well, at least I can die fighting, I thought to myself 
grimly. I’ll disobey Al’s orders, go back to the U.S. Service 

[ 290] 

& Shipping Corporation (John Reynolds had been begging 
me to return for some time), and be in a position effectively 
to block the plans of the Soviet Secret Police. The Russians 
are going to learn that here is one American they can’t 

Repercussions were not long in coming. A few days later, 
I received a message that A1 was coming to New York to 
see me — an unprecedented move on his part since he had 
always demanded that his contacts come to Washington. I 
had planted myself squarely in his way and he was obviously 
worried. As I hung up the telephone, I smiled. Well, the 
battle was on now and at least my opponent was somewhat 
off balance. 

Yet there was another reason for my increasing optimism. 
The day after I had returned to the U.S. Service & Shipping 
Corporation as vice president, I had finally heard from the 
F.B.I., and after my lengthy conversation with the agent in 
the New York office, I felt very much relieved. Now, at 
last, I was no longer battling alone against the Soviet Secret 
Police; I was working side by side with the American gov- 

When I met A1 that night in front of Bickford’s restau- 
rant on 23 rd Street, he greeted me with a cordiality that was 
patently false. Here we go! I said to myself, praying silently 
that I would be able to keep up the proper pose. Forcing a 
smile, I advanced to meet him, my hand outstretched. 

“Hello, Al,” I said in what I hoped was a cheerful tone 
of voice. “It’s good to see you.” 

Al, as usual, was hungry and steered me into the Cornish 
Arms Hotel across the street to have some supper. Then he 
suggested we stroll around a bit. He headed toward Ninth 
Avenue, and as we walked along, he started tQ tell me what 

a mistake I had made and how useful I was to the organi- 
zation. When we reached the dock area of the Hudson 
River, I turned to go back, but A 1 stopped me. 

“Let’s walk along here,” he said. “It’s nice and private.” 

As I matched my steps to his, I found myself shivering in 
the grip of an almost uncontrollable terror. It was by then 
quite dark and the empty docks loomed up blackly, un- 
broken by a single light. The street, too, seemed deserted. 
In the oppressive silence our footsteps rang out. Could he 
know that I was working with the F.B.I., I wondered 
desperately. I hoped that the agents were somewhere close 
behind me, but I didn’t dare look for fear I might tip off Al. 
I must have drawn an audible breath, for he looked at me 

“What’s the matter?” he asked. “You’re shivering.” 

“Nothing,” I answered hastily, “only it’s so deserted 
down here. We could easily be attacked by thugs.” 

“Don’t worry about that,” he replied soothingly, “I’m 
an expert at jujitsu.” 

Far from reassuring me, this remark only made me more 

At last we headed away from the river, and I drew a 
breath of relief. Then I realized Al was talking about the 
old problem of my being paid as an agent. Insistently he 
demanded that I take my back pay, which he said was piling 
up in Moscow. Just as firmly as I had in the past, I informed 
him I didn’t want any salary and had no intention of taking 
any. We argued all the way to Fourth and Tenth Streets in 
the Village, until suddenly he stopped and turned to me, his 
face grim and set. 

“Let’s have no more nonsense about this,” he said in a 
menacing voice. “I have $2,000 right here in my pocket. 

1 29 2 1 

It’s part of your salary. You’re going to take it now! If you 
don’t, I shall be forced to the inescapable conclusion that 
you are a traitor! ” 

I started to refuse, then stopped myself. I had been told 
not to arouse Al’s suspicions, and I must hold to that line. 
This is a showdown, I thought. If I don’t accept the money, 
he will know that something is wrong. Much as it went 
against the grain to let the Russians think I could be bought, 
I must give that impression. I forced myself to smile lightly. 

“Don’t be silly, Al,” I said, “of course I’m not a traitor. 
Come to think of it, I could use a little extra money. As a 
matter of fact, I must confess that I went back to the U.S. 
Service & Shipping Corporation because I needed cash. 
After all, it’s time I began to think about myself.” 

His face relaxed and he looked at me with the gloating ex- 
pression of a cat that has found the mouse walking into his 

“Now you’re being sensible. Why didn’t you tell me be- 
fore that you needed money? I would have given you all 
you asked for. You didn’t have to ball things up and go 
back to your old job. It could have been handled very 
nicely, if I’d only known.” He stopped and looked at me 
thoughtfully, then went on, “Oh, I understand — it’s your 
stupid American pride. Well, forget it. Here’s the money. 
Give me a receipt and we’ll be square.” 

Out of his pocket he drew a long white envelope which 
contained $2,000 in the usual $20 bills. I tore off one corner, 
on which I wrote, “Received $2,000,” added the date and 
my name, and handed the scrap of paper back to him. The 
envelope I tucked away carefully in my pocketbook. 

Al, meanwhile, was regarding me with a satisfied ex- 
pression. His face seemed to say: well, it’s taken a long time 

[ 2 93 ] 

to bring her to terms, but at last I’ve succeeded. I could 
see him rushing back to the Soviet Embassy in Washington 
and sending a jubilant cable to Moscow. Undoubtedly he 
thinks he will get a medal or an increase in rank for this 
achievement. Well, this time he is wrong — this time he is 
going to find out that it isn’t wise to play around with 
Americans. The thought cheered me considerably. I was 
even able to shake hands with him cordially as we parted. 

As quickly as possible I turned over the money to the 
F.B.I. The two agents with whom I was in contact counted 
and recounted the bills, then put them into a fresh envelope 
and initialed it. As one of them stowed it away in his pocket, 
he whistled softly. 

“It’s a lot of money,” he said. “They must have plenty 
of it over there to spend.” 

As the fall wore on, I spent more and more time with 
the F.B.I., going over the information I had in my posses- 
sion. There were many threads in my hands which, by 
themselves, might make no sense but, combined with other 
data, could weave a pattern. I had no idea what the F.B.I. 
men thought about me personally, nor did I know what my 
own fate was to be. I never asked them and they never vol- 
unteered the information. Oh well, I thought, that is really 
irrelevant. What is important is that I help smash the Soviet 
espionage machine. 

In spite of this strange relationship, I liked the F.B.I. men. 
They were so very different from what I had expected. I 
remembered I had been quite sure they would beat me 
up and throw me into a dungeon. That, of course, was 
the notion every Communist had of the F.B.I. The Party 
propaganda had continually stressed the idea that it was 

[ 2 94 1 

a merciless and inhuman organization. Instead, they were 
unfailingly courteous and considerate. 

This pattern of behavior persisted during all our rela- 
tionship. I discovered, too, that in other ways they were 
quite different from the Russians, and I began to be more 
and more impressed. The eyes of the Soviet Secret Police 
agents had always betrayed a terrible fear; despite their 
superficial arrogance, they had cringed like whipped dogs. 
Yet the faces of the F.B.I. agents, although they showed the 
strain of fatigue and tension, had none of this terror. Instead, 
they behaved like free men who were proud of the organi- 
zation they worked for. The Russians, moreover, never 
seemed to work as a team. Under the merciless discipline 
and the inhuman competition, each agent had been out for 
himself; and, trying to claw his way up the ladder, he would 
disparage the efforts of his fellow workers, even going so 
far as to pass on vicious pieces of gossip about them. This 
was lacking in the F.B.I. To my great surprise I found that 
one agent would go out of his way to praise the efforts of 
another. I had been completely wrong about my own coun- 
try. Here in the United States even government agents are 
very decent people. 

One day the agent to whom I was talking left the room 
and soon returned, looking serious. 

“Well, Elizabeth,” he had said, sitting down in a chair, 
“now we come to the $64 question. Would you be willing 
to keep on going as you are now? It’s important to us that 
you stay in the U.S. Service to keep it from falling into 
Soviet hands. With you in there, we can keep tabs on what 
is going on. Then, too, it’s vital to keep in contact with the 
Russian Secret Police and also with the people you know 

[ 295 1 

in the American Communist Party. Also, you should pick 
up Earl Browder again. Even though he’s technically out of 
the Party, he’s certainly not changed his ideas and we’d like 
to know what he’s up to.” 

I looked back at him thoughtfully. I did want to get out 
of all this mess, but I couldn’t leave with a clear conscience 
until every last tag end had been tied up. 

“Of course,” I agreed. 

And so I continued outwardly to lead the same life as I 
had before, although I was working in close cooperation 
with the F.B.I. It was a difficult procedure, for I was con- 
tinually on edge for fear my foot would slip and I would 
betray the whole scheme. Moreover, it was a complicated, 
fence-straddling position, dealing with three groups of 
Communists, plus the F.B.I. The American Communist Party 
officials must not know I was in contact with the Russians. 
Even more urgent was the fact that under no circumstances 
should they find out that I was dealing with Browder. Earl 
had been expelled from the Party back in June and it was 
verboten for any Communist to see him. If they discov- 
ered my connection with him, they would immediately de- 
nounce me as a traitor and the fat would be in the fire. 

At first, I had thought future meetings with the F.B.I. 
would be difficult, but with a bit of maneuvering it worked 
out all right. For safety’s sake, we generally met outside 
their office — or sometimes in a room in the Prince George 
Hotel, just around the corner from my office. Sometimes 
they picked me up in one of their cars and we rode around 
and talked. When it was necessary for me to go down to 
headquarters, they carefully sneaked me in the back door. 
Luckily, too, I had in the past accustomed my office to the 
fact that during the day I wandered out for appointments. 

[ 296 ] 

Now they found nothing extraordinary in my behavior, 
even though I took off half days, or even days, to work with 
the F.B.I. 

On November 20 I had an appointment with A 1 in front 
of Bickford’s cafeteria. Escorted by a contingent of F.B.I. 
men, I arrived late in the afternoon. Would he come, I won- 
dered, as I had before, or by now has he been tipped off that 
all is not well? The minutes clicked by. I watched the F.B.I. 
men across the street changing positions. Then, twenty 
minutes later, I saw A 1 rushing kitty-corner across the 
street. I carefully advanced to meet him, my hand out. 

“I’m sorry to be late,” he said, trying to catch his breath. 
“I knew that one of the avenues in New York had been 
changed to the Avenue of the Americas, but I thought it 
was Eighth Avenue instead of Sixth. I waited in front of 
Bickford’s on 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue for fifteen min- 
utes, until suddenly I had the bright idea that possibly I was 
in the wrong place.” 

I glanced across the street. The F.B.I. agents were still 
there. I smiled happily at Al. 

“I’m glad you got here,” I said. “I was almost ready to 

Cavanagh’s being only a half block away, I suggested 
we go there for coffee and talk. I asked him why the Rus- 
sians had failed to pay the American Communist Party the 
$12,000 they had promised as the purchase price for U.S. 
Service. Lem Harris and Willie Weiner, I said, had been 
haunting me, demanding the cash. They, I added, had even 
insinuated that I had walked off with the money. Al looked 
cynically amused. 

“We’re not going to give them any cash. Moscow has 
decided it’s an unnecessary expenditure. Why should we 

[ 297 ] 

spend any money on the business when we can get the 
American Party to carry the load?” 

“Why don’t you tell them so, then?” I asked. 

He shrugged. “What’s the use? They’ll only raise a fuss 
and we’ll have a lot of unnecessary trouble. Let it ride as 
it is.” 

The full cleverness of this scheme dawned on me. The 
Russian Secret Police wanted the business — but without 
paying for it. They didn’t want difficulties with the Amer- 
ican Communist Party, so they were going to say nothing 
and let it appear that I was at fault. So I was to be the goat! 

“What’s the idea of leaving me in the middle?” I de- 
manded irately. 

He looked at me as if he were savoring a very special 

“You’re not. Just tell the Finance Committee that Earl 
Browder received the money from us before he was kicked 
out of the Party. That will settle the matter nicely.” 

“What a lovely mind you have, Al! ” I said ironically. 

Out on the street again, Al paused to light his cigarette 
with a gold lighter. After a moment, he held it out to me. 

“Why don’t you take this as a gift from me?” he 
inquired. “I notice that you don’t have one of your own.” 

I shook my head. Cigarette lighters, I told him, didn’t ap- 
peal to me — they were never in working order when you 
needed them. Then with half-hysterical amusement I no- 
ticed a few feet away from us was parked an F.B.I. car, with 
two agents inside. Luckily, Al had his back turned and 
couldn’t see, and I hoped my face revealed nothing. 

As we walked down Eighth Avenue, he discussed my 
future. I should stay with the firm temporarily, he said, 
yet it was quite possible that very soon he would need me 

[ 29 8 ] 

back in undercover work. I didn’t know whether to be 
glad or sorry at this pronouncement. Undoubtedly I could 
be of great help to the F.B.I. if I went back in, but on the 
other hand everything in me revolted at the idea. A 1 shook 
hands ceremoniously on parting. 

“Nothing much is going to happen for the next two 
months, I think,” he said. “So I won’t see you again until 
January 20. In the meantime, if I need to see you, I’ll call 
your office — pretend that I’m a Mr. Alberg who is inter- 
ested in sending packages to Sweden. That will mean we 
will meet the same day at Bickford’s at the usual time.” 

Walking home, I wondered just what Al’s position was 
in this country. All I knew at that time was that he was a 
high-up official in the Soviet Embassy. I had identified his 
picture in the F.B.I. photo gallery but the agents, although 
undoubtedly sensing my interest, had not offered to tell 
me anything. It was, indeed, some time later on — in the 
spring of 1947 — that I finally learned who he was. With 
amusement I found that he was indeed a high-up Soviet of- 
ficial — he was Anatol Gromov, the First Secretary of the 
Russian Embassy! Today he is the head of the Russian 
Trade Mission in Japan. 

As Christmas time drew near, I wondered what to do 
about Earl Browder. If I was to keep up the pretense that I 
was still working for the Russians, I must produce a present. 
Unfortunately, I could not ask A 1 about it, for he was, and 
must remain, unaware that I had any connection with Earl. 
I took my predicament to the F.B.I. 

“I think I’ll go out and buy him a bottle of Scotch 
whiskey, and Ra'issa a bottle of imported cognac. The only 
thing is that they’re very hard to find. There seems to be a 
shortage,” I said. 


The agents looked at me and laughed. 

“Don’t bother, Elizabeth,” they said. “We’ll provide the 
liquor. This Christmas Earl Browder will have a present 
from the United States government!” 

Armed with the package, I went up to Earl’s office. As 
before, he sat disconsolately in a chair, halfheartedly leaf- 
ing through some papers. I walked over to him and held out 
my bundle. 

“Merry Christmas, Earl,” I said quietly. 

His face lighted up for a moment and he looked pathet- 
ically grateful. He thought the Russian Secret Police had 
sent that present. More than the value involved, it spelled 
the fact that perhaps he was not completely in the doghouse. 
It was too bad I had to fool him like this, but after all he 
was my enemy. Much as I pitied him, I knew that Earl 
Browder was too hardened a revolutionary to desert Mos- 
cow. Some of the old life came back into his face as he 
looked up at me. 

“I’ll get back up there some day. This position I’m in is 
only temporary. Moscow will need me again. I’ll be useful 
to them.” He paused for a moment and then went on sav- 
agely, “Anyway, it’s all the fault of my old enemy Foster. 
Ever since I displaced him, he’s been waiting for a chance 
to stick a knife in me. And look at him — what is he? Just a 
half-crazy old fool who has spent most of his life in and 
out of mental institutions. He hasn’t the brains to run the 

“If Foster doesn’t run the Party, who does?” I asked. 

“Gene Dennis, of course,” he said venomously. “He’s the 
brains behind Foster and the rest of them. He’s a smart guy 
— he’s just using Foster for his own purposes.” 

Then I remembered how, every time I had gone to Com- 

1 3 °° 1 

munist headquarters to visit Earl, I had had to pass Dennis’s 
office, which was just across the hall — in an excellent posi- 
tion to watch what was going on. His door was always 
open; he would sit there motionless with all the savage in- 
tentness of a cat watching a mouse hole, and his expression 
as he stared at Earl’s office seemed to say: “Some day, 
brother, you’ll be out and I’ll be in there.” 

On January 20 I went over to Bickford’s to keep my ap- 
pointment with Al, but although I waited for almost three 
quarters of an hour, he didn’t show up. I wondered what 
had happened to him. Could it be that by now he was sus- 
picious of me? It didn’t seem likely. I had been very careful, 
and certainly his previous actions hadn’t indicated any 
alarm. What I didn’t then know was that Al was no 
longer in the country but had been sent back home earlier 
that month. His departure, as it later turned out, was the 
result of the now-famous Canadian spy case, which made 
sensational headlines during 1 946. 

By now I knew the F.B.I. believed my story. And they 
trusted my motives completely. One agent finally told me 
that every detail of the information they had been able to 
check had turned out to be absolutely accurate. This, as 
also the fact that we were working together so closely, in- 
creased my good relations with them and we were in con- 
stant telephonic communication. Fortunately Jack Reyn- 
olds had a private wire in his office, and since he was still 
with the Army, I was able to use it and not go through the 
company switchboard. Besides this, I saw them several times 
a week — checking on information and sometimes even go- 
ing on surveillances to identify people I had known. These 
tailing jobs were rugged affairs and I would reach home at 
night completely worn out. The agents, themselves haggard 

[ 3 GI ] 

with fatigue, would look at me sympathetically. One of 
them remarked that on a two-week detail like this he had 
lost ten pounds. 

Once I remember that, in the process of trying to identify 
one of my old contacts, Margaret, we were parked in a car 
on a street in the nineties, around the corner from Riverside 
Drive. Suddenly two agents, who had been stationed in 
front of her house, dashed madly up to us with the news 
that she had just taken a cab for Grand Central Station. In a 
flash they jumped into the back seat, one on each side of 
me, the driver stepped on the gas, and away we went. It was 
one of those wild rides that you see only in the movies. Had 
I not been wedged firmly between the two agents, I most 
certainly would have landed on the floor. Through Central 
Park we flew, rounding corners on two wheels, and arrived 
at Grand Central Station a good five minutes or so before 
our quarry. 

In midspring, Earl Browder suddenly announced to me 
that he was going to Moscow. Undoubtedly, he said, they 
wanted him over there, because they had given him a visa 
and made arrangements for him to cross the border. Jack 
Reynolds, on hearing of this, wanted to see Earl. Intourist 
had again decided that they would not give us an exclusive 
contract the following fall, and he thought that Earl could 
intervene to persuade them. Although I knew that Intourist 
would not yield unless the Soviet Secret Police intervened, 
which they would not do unless they had plans for 
the business, I decided to let Jack carry out his idea. In this 
way, I would be able to check up and find out what the So- 
viet Secret Police were up to. Earl, when approached, was 
delighted with the idea. Although his trip to Moscow was 
being financed by his old friend A. A. Heller, who had not 

[ 3° 2 1 

only left the Party together with him but had been support- 
ing him ever since, Earl could always use more cash and he 
hoped that Jack would give him a handout. 

When Earl finally returned from Moscow, he looked 
jaunty and self-assured. Doubtless he had made his peace 
with the powers that be, because the old look of fear had 
been replaced by an almost arrogant expression. Happily he 
showed me a copy of a signed contract that appointed him 
sole agent for the sale of Soviet publications in the United 
States. Now, he said, he wouldn’t have to go back to writ- 
ing his “old newsletter.” 

“Then you’ll have to return the subscribers’ money,” I 

He shook his head and said he didn’t think that that could 
be managed. What a racket, I thought. His subscribers pay 
the immense sum of $100 for a year’s subscription and then 
only get a few issues. Nor did I see how he could eke out a 
living under the terms of the new contract, which paid him 
only a small commission on books actually sold, since the 
market for Soviet publications was not a large one. He 
shrugged his shoulders. 

“I know it’s going to be tough. I can only make some- 
thing if they send over another best seller like Quiet Flows 
the Don” 

Meanwhile, the F.B.I. asked if I would get in touch with 
one or two of my old Communist contacts in Washington 
and see what was going on in the apparatus. It was, I knew, 
a somewhat risky procedure — like sticking my head into 
the lion’s mouth — but I agreed to try. So, on my next busi- 
ness trip to Washington, I telephoned Helen Tenney. To 
my surprise, her voice was friendly, even relieved, and she 
agreed to have cocktails with me the following evening. 


I approached Pierre’s, where I was to meet her, with a 
sinking feeling in my heart. How did I know I wasn’t walk- 
ing into a trap? Casually I entered, found a table, then 
sat down, wondering if, when she arrived, my knees would 
have stopped shaking. Just as I had almost given up hope 
that she would show up, Helen came through the door and, 
after looking furtively around her, sat down opposite me. 
She looked thinner and more tired, and in her eyes was that 
old look of fear I had known so well. 

“I didn’t know whether or not I should come,” she said 
in a low voice. “You see, the F.B.I. are after me.” 

I stiffened in my chair and stared at her. Across the room 
two personable young agents were sipping cocktails and 
seemingly paying no attention to us. Could she have dis- 
covered them, I wondered. But she was rushing on, glad to 
get the worry off her chest. 

“I haven’t seen any of them behind me,” she said ear- 
nestly, “but they came to my house in New York and made 
inquiries of our chauffeur. Of course, he told Mother and 
she told me.” She paused for a moment and looked at me 
with a pathetic eagerness. “I’m so glad you’ve come. After 
I lost my contact a few months back. I’ve been sitting and 
worrying, thinking that something must be wrong.” 

A sick sense of revulsion swept over me. She was coming 
to me in the expectation of finding a friend, and instead I 
was her enemy. I can’t go on with this, I thought desper- 
ately. She and I were comrades together, and I can’t fool 
her this way. Then I steadied myself. It had to be done, and 
perhaps in the process I could get her out of the mess she 
was in. 

“You’ll be in contact with me from now on, won’t you?” 
she asked anxiously. 


That would be best, I decided. She had been dropped by 
the N.K.V.D., it was true, but from what she said, she was 
in a most confidential government position and they might 
easily try to pick her up again. 

“I’ll take care of you from now on, Helen,” I said. “But 
don’t do anything about bringing me information for a 
while. It wouldn’t be wise, with the F.B.I. after you. Try 
and forget all about that now.” 

I continued to see Helen until she lost her position in 
Washington and returned to New York. Thank God, I 
thought, now she’s out of the government and probably no 
longer useful to the Russians. 

By the fall of 1946 I was sure the Soviet Secret Police 
would not renew our exclusive contract with Intourist. 
Not only had Earl Browder made this point abundantly 
clear, but Intourist itself confirmed this impression. More- 
over, from Browder I learned that they wanted Reynolds 
to go in person to Moscow. Apparently I had succeeded in 
influencing him too much for their purposes. Once in 
Moscow, wined and dined, he would be theirs without 

Reynolds, who had left the Army in June, was uncertain 
what he wanted to do about the matter. Definitely the busi- 
ness was flourishing, and he was unwilling to abandon it 
under such circumstances, yet he didn’t particularly care 
to go over to Moscow. Back and forth he vacillated, while 
the F.B.I. and I held our breaths. One day he was sure that 
under no circumstances would he budge out of the United 
States, the next he was all set to start out, taking his wife 
and me along. 

“What shall I do?” I asked my F.B.I. contact despair- 


“Try and dissuade him from going,” he replied. “If he 
gets in the hands of those people over there, heaven knows 
what will happen. And obviously you can’t go along. It’s 
not safe.” And then half seriously, half amusedly, “With 
your penchant for getting into the middle of things, you’d 
probably start World War III.” 

While all this was going on, Jack and Grace Reynolds 
and I went down to Washington to see Ernest C. Ropes, the 
head of the United States Commerce Department’s Rus- 
sian division — a kindly old gentleman who was sincerely 
interested in bettering trade relations between the United 
States and the Soviet Union. 

“I hope you’ll continue on with your operations,” he said 
to Jack and me that morning in his office, “and in the event 
that you do, you should be very sure that you are comply- 
ing with the rules and regulations of the United States gov- 
ernment. You’ve never registered as Agents of a Foreign 
Principal, but I think you’d better check up on that ruling 
while you’re down here. I’ll ring up a friend of mine in the 
Foreign Agents’ Registration Division of the Department 
of Justice and you can go over and see him.” 

This was an unexpected development and a highly dan- 
gerous one. Obviously the Department of Justice shouldn’t 
give a clean bill of health to the U.S. Service & Shipping 
Corporation. If its officials knew the true facts, they most 
assuredly wouldn’t, yet I didn’t know if they had been 
tipped off by the F.B.I. or not. 

Hearing Mr. Ropes make the appointment for early that 
afternoon, I wondered frantically how to get out and make 
a telephone call. 

“You go to lunch, Jack,” I said; “I have an errand to do.” 

1 3° 6 1 

He looked surprised but said nothing as I hastily left. My 
knees were shaking as I dialed long distance. It seemed like 
years, but finally I heard the voice of the agent in charge. 
Rapidly I told him what had happened, whereupon his voice 
came reassuringly. 

“Don’t worry,” he said. “We’ll get word through to 
Washington. We’ve got two hours on it.” 

The two men across the conference table from us that 
afternoon were, I was sure, not F.B.I. men. The tenor of 
their conversation, too, made me wonder whether or not 
the message had gone through. The minutes clicked by and 
I began to get more nervous. Then the door opened and a 
third man walked in and casually sat down. I took a good, 
hard look at him and then relaxed. It was all right now! 

From then on the conversation took a more constructive 
trend. Although nothing was said that would tip Jack off, 
he squirmed uneasily under some of the searching questions. 
At the end the Department of Justice men were noncom- 
mittal. We would have to file papers and then they would 

“Why didn’t you come to my assistance when they were 
badgering me so?” Jack asked, as we were riding back in a 

“You were doing all right,” I replied. 

But I felt heartsick. I had tried to detach him and as many 
comrades as I could. There was no more that I could do. I 
sensed that the Department of Justice would soon take ac- 
tion, and though I longed to warn him I knew, aside from 
the fact I was under orders not to, it would be unsafe for 
me to do so. 

Before the year was out I was summoned before a special 


federal grand jury in New York. I spent two weeks testify- 
ing. Then agonizing months passed, during which I was 
called back repeatedly to clean up various points. 

By late winter I became definitely alarmed. The situation 
had reached an acute stage. The Communists had by now 
learned that I had talked. Either they had put two and two 
together from the leaks that were coming out in the press, 
or some of the witnesses called by the grand jury had 
compared notes and decided I was the only one who knew 
that particular combination of facts. I began to receive 
mysterious telephone calls at all hours of day and night and 
threatening letters. I began to wonder just how much 
longer I could hold out under this terrible strain without 
any friends to confide in. 

But then, bewilderingly, things happened in rapid fire. 
The grand jury brought in indictments against the eleven 
Communists who composed the so-called Politburo of the 
American Communist Party. The following day the New 
York World-Telegram commenced to publish the sub- 
stance of my story. Two days later the telephone rang. 
An investigator for the Committee on Un-American Ac- 
tivities wanted to have dinner with me. William Rogers 
of the Senate Investigating Committee landed on my door- 
step with a subpoena. It seemed he was investigating Wil- 
liam Remington. 

Four days later, when the reporters got hold of my name, 
pandemonium broke loose. The story was splashed over the 
front pages of the newspapers in the most lurid terms. Re- 
porters, unable to find me, haunted my hotel in Brooklyn, 
called my friends and relatives, even visited my office. 
Disgustedly I read the newspapers and added them to the 
stack on the floor and wished I had never gone to the F.B.I, 

t 3° 8 ] 

I hadn’t realized the story would make such a stir. From 
now on I would be a notorious person — the “Red Spy 
Queen.” Would there ever be any peace for me from 
now on? 

Then followed days of testifying, with flash bulbs pop- 
ping, newsreel cameras grinding, and television! I resented 
it all and even the guards that suddenly appeared. But after 
days of strain I became grateful for them. At least I had 
someone to talk to. 

I had expected that, soon after my revelations became 
public, the Communist Party would start a campaign of 
smears and slander. And I was not wrong. The Daily 
Worker itself didn’t dare touch the story beyond such in- 
direct comments as: “They call her the blonde spy queen, 
but her hair’s really a dirty brown.” But the Communist 
Party, via its transmission belt of fellow travelers and mis- 
guided “liberals,” promptly sent out a barrage, including a 
story that I had spent some time in a mental institution. 
One day, I remember, Robert Stripling, chief investigator 
of the Committee on Un-American Activities, looked up 
from the phone with a frown on his face. 

“That’s the A.P.,” he said worriedly. “They want to 
know if you were ever in an insane asylum.” 

“When do they say I was in it?” I asked and, given the 
approximate dates, I started to laugh. “That’s the time when 
I was spending most of my hours with the F.B.I. That’s 
certainly an institution, and if they want to call it mental, 
it’s their privilege.” 

But it really wasn’t funny. And as time went on, it got 
less so. The San Francisco police found on the Golden Gate 
Bridge a woman’s clothes, her handbag, and a letter ad- 
dressed to “E.T.B.,” the initials which I always used on my 


interoffice correspondence. The letter started “Dear Eliza- 
beth” and was obviously intended for me. It was a long, 
incoherent epistle, stating in substance that because I had 
betrayed her, she had taken her baby girl and jumped off 
the bridge. I didn’t know anyone in California — let alone a 
woman with a child — and I told the wire services so. Not 
long afterward the San Francisco police found it was all a 

But the worst ordeal of all was sitting in the Committee 
hearing room and watching my old comrades as they testi- 
fied. Those who were obviously still convinced Commu- 
nists stood firmly on their constitutional grounds and 
refused to talk. Not only were they silent when they were 
asked about Communist Party membership and espionage 
activities, but they would not answer such simple questions 
as: “Were you ever in Union Station?” or “Have you ever 
played tennis?” for fear they might be trapped. It was, of 
course, a dead giveaway, for honest men do not behave that 
way. Others, who I believed were now out of the Party, 
evidently couldn’t bring themselves to admit their guilt. 
Their pride seemed to hold them back from admitting they 
had ever done any wrong. They slid and slithered around 
the questions, trying to exculpate themselves, meanwhile 
insinuating that I was a “neurotic” and “drank too much.” 

As I listened to person after person, I felt sick. There’s 
Lud Ullman, I thought; he’s my age, yet he looks like an 
old man, burned out and hollow eyed. Over there is Greg 
Silvermaster, a shell of a man. As my eyes wandered over 
all of them, I felt a terrible sadness. 

And then pictures more poignant came to me, pictures 
of other comrades who had been smashed by the Soviet ma- 
chine. There was Helen Tenney. “She tried to commit sui- 


cide,” said my F.B.I. man gently, “but it didn’t work. She’s 
in Psycho — at New York Hospital. She clammed up on the 
psychiatrist, but you may be able to help, because her only 
response has been to someone mentioning ‘Russian Bank,’ 
which sent her into hysterics.” When I finally saw her, she 
looked pathetically grateful and kept repeating proudly, 
“I never talked. I never talked!” 

And Caroline Klein. A life-long worker in the Russian 
wing of the American party, she had known Yasha for a 
number of years, and when he died, she and I had become 
great friends. When Caroline discovered she had developed 
cancer of the liver and had, at most, four months to live, 
the Party decided she was of no further use to them. Her 
telephone calls to erstwhile comrades were left unanswered. 
Alone in her four-flight walk-up apartment, she lay in 
agony without friends. At that time I was working with 
the F.B.I., but I could not bear to see her suffer alone like 
that. Every few days I would go up to see her— bringing 
small gifts of fruit and flowers and hoping some of her old 
comrades would come. But they never did. Bewildered, 
disillusioned, cursing the Party, yet still held in the iron 
grip of Communist ideology, she died. 

Then I no longer felt sad. I was angry with a great 
cleansing anger. 

And now I looked again at these people before me in the 
Committee Room. They are spiritually dead, I thought 
with sudden and final release. But I am alive and I can speak 
for them, for all those whom I have left behind — those lost 
ghosts that have died for an illusion. Telling their story 
and mine, I will let the decent people of the world know 
what a monstrous thing Communism is.